Hundreds of people turned out on a drizzly morning Oct. 19 for the long-awaited opening of the new Indian Creek Library at 16100 W. 135th St. The $19 million library, designed by Gould Evans, is packed with some of the latest technology and features.
It’s been 3 1/2 years since the Indian Creek Library building at 127th Street and Black Bob Road flooded. In the interim, the library inhabited a small strip mall space at 13511 S. Mur-Len Road. The 47,000-square-foot building, the former site of a Hy-Vee, is about half a mile northeast of that temporary space.
“We are just excited to have our library back,” said Olathe resident Maggie Chang, who came to Saturday’s opening event with her 9-year-old son Jonah.
Even before the flood, Olathe Library director Emily Baker had been looking into ways to expand the Indian Creek building. After it became clear that the water damage was too extensive, “we kept in that (expansion) mode but took a slightly different direction,” Baker said.
After surveying the community, staff and library advisory board, as well as taking research trips to other libraries in California and Colorado, Baker had an idea of what everyone wanted to see in a new library.
Large open spaces, meeting rooms and study rooms were high on the list. So were various forms of technology. A makerspace near the front of the building includes a 3-D printer, lasers cutters and engravers, a button-maker and a vinyl cutter. Nearby sits a soundproof recording studio complete with a soundboard and instruments.
“Having a much larger building and all this new technology provides its own stress, but having so much more space to accommodate people and to be able to serve them more efficiently… is going to be like night and day to the temporary library we had,” said Bob Miller, manager of the Indian Creek Library.
Teenagers wanted a gaming room — and now they’ve got one with a Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and virtual reality games. For the smaller kids, there’s an Everbright wall, sort of like a giant Lite-Brite.
“We go to all the storytimes, so we’re excited for the new space for all the kids’ stuff,” said Olathe resident Heather Kindle.
Her 2-year-old son Tyler headed right for the Everbright wall Saturday morning, turning the lights all different colors in a unique design.
Many of the taller bookshelves have lights mounted on top to make it easier for people to read the spine labels of the books.
Even the check-in process has gone high-tech, with automatic check-in machines that allow library users to watch their books being checked in and sorted via a conveyor belt.
“It’s a real upgrade from what we had before,” said Olathe resident Deborah Kelecha.
If you’re hungry, you don’t have to leave the building. The library has a partnership with Park Street Pastry to run a cafe with sweets and drinks near the building’s entrance. Although covered drinks are allowed anywhere in the library, the food does have to stay in the cafe area.
The building features eight study rooms and a large event space that can accommodate up to 220 people.
Many of the walls are glass, allowing for natural light to flow into the open spaces. The inspiration for that part of the design came from a visit to the Pike’s Peak Library District, Baker said. Locally, the newer Lawrence Public Library gave them some ideas about open spaces and incorporating the outdoors into the design.
In the spring, the city will open a 2-acre park next to the library. Several outdoor gardens and play areas are also part of the design.
“Libraries have very much expanded into the idea of a community center… it’s really an important part of the community,” Baker said.