Seven cool things about Johnson County’s newest library

Johnson County unveils its first new library of the 21st century, the Monticello branch in western Shawnee, at a grand opening from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The $18.1 million facility, designed by Clark Enersen Partners and built by McCownGordon Construction, aims to serve a booming western Johnson County area that has wanted a new library since the 1990s.

It has tall windows and lots of natural light, an outdoor deck, comfortable spaces to curl up with a book or a laptop, spacious community rooms and other amenities the public wanted. The collection includes tens of thousands of materials, including ample supplies of audiobooks, music CDs and DVDs.

As library director Sean Casserley surveyed crews putting the finishing touches Thursday on the first brand-new library built in the county since 2000, he said it reflects not the librarians’ wishes but the community’s vision.

It’s designed to emphasize community gathering spaces, convenience and customer-friendly services.

“You get to see the library of the future,” Casserley said.

Here are seven cool features of the new facility at 22435 W. 66th St., just off Shawnee Mission Parkway and east of Kansas 7.

Large collection. The two-story, 33,000-square-foot building has one of the largest collections in the county system, with 90,000 books and other materials suitable for children, teens or adults. The collection includes more than 21,000 audiobooks, 2,500 music CDs and more than 13,000 DVDs.

Latest technology. Computer stations offer eight PCs and six Macs with high-end digital software. People also can bring their own laptops and other devices to take advantage of the high-speed Wi-Fi.

Children’s section. The library has a dedicated children’s story-time room, plus a large kids’ reading and literacy space, including a presence from Kansas City’s Rabbit Hole, a nonprofit that works to inspire children to read.

Comfortable furniture for reading and relaxing. The building has colorful, contemporary and funky furniture designed to appeal to all ages. A cozy reading nook is under the grand staircase, and there’s plenty of study seating and study rooms.

Inviting outdoor space. The rooftop terrace has Wi-Fi access, charging stations, tables and chairs, and a green roof that helps lower the building’s heating and cooling costs. The exterior is landscaped and features public art and a story-walk path to teach children early literacy skills.

Community rooms. The library has nine meeting rooms, including one that can hold more than 100 people, wired with audio-visual equipment and open to nonprofit groups at no charge. Casserley said the facility helps make up for a lack of other community gathering rooms in the western part of the county.

Customer friendly. Patrons will find self-serve checkout kiosks, a drive-through window for busy parents to pick up holds and a 24-hour outdoor book drop-off. Behind the scenes, the library has an automated sorting system designed to get books and other materials back on the shelves and into circulation as quickly as possible.