Building Our Future

Gardner Library Temporarily Closed for Improvements this Fall

Gardner Library will be closed to the public Wednesday, Oct. 5 until mid-December for interior and exterior improvements, including roof replacement, updates to plumbing and mechanical systems, and repaving. The final reopening date will depend on conditions such as weather and supply chain availability; patrons will be notified via email and other Library communication channels once a reopening date is determined.

Patrons may continue to return materials to the exterior return bin during the duration of closure, and Curbside Holds Pickup will be available during normal operating hours beginning Monday, Oct. 10 through early December. Please note the location of the dedicated Curbside parking stalls will shift a few stalls to the right to accommodate construction equipment in the lot.

Meet Merriam Plaza Library

Here's your first look at the newest Johnson County Library branch, the Merriam Plaza Library.

This new location will replace the current Antioch Library, which has been a fixture in the Merriam community for over 60 years—staff and patrons alike have many fond memories of the building, some having visited Antioch their entire lives!

Plans for the new Library, located just a few blocks away on the campus of the Merriam Community Center, have been in development with the City of Merriam for several years. The name Merriam Plaza Library is fitting as it is located within the Merriam Municipal Plaza which is also home to the Community Center, City Hall and police station. The name was selected by a committee and voted on and approved by the Library Board at their Sept. meeting. The design phase is now complete and construction will begin in late 2022/early 2023, with the new facility anticipated to open in 2024. Learn more about the project in our FAQ

For more information, visit jocolibrary.org or follow @jocolibrary on social media for project updates and photos.

Shawnee Branch Celebrates Decades of Service to Community

The Shawnee Library branch is celebrating 30 years at its current location, 13811 Johnson Drive, sharing a campus with an aquatic center and civic center.

But Library roots run even deeper in Shawnee and date back nearly 70 years, to a charming little schoolhouse. In fact, the very first Johnson County Library branch opened its doors June 3, 1953 in Shawnee, in the old Dunbar School at 57th and Reeder Road. The facility was first run by volunteers from the Friends of Johnson County Library and later by paid staff.

The Shawnee Library moved to rented space near Nieman Road on Johnson Drive, but budget cuts forced its closure in 1958. For the next 34 years, Shawnee was served by the Antioch branch.

Library and civic leaders always wanted to re-establish a Shawnee branch. That became even more essential with population growth in the 1980s. The city offered the present site on its Johnson Drive civic campus, and the branch opened there on April 25, 1992.

The building, designed by Gould Evans architects, had floor-to-ceiling windows, a bright, airy interior and a vaulted roof resembling an open book. Its design was so impressive that it was featured in the Library Journal’s annual architecture issue that same year.

Serving patrons today is a joy for Branch Manager Anna Madrigal and Assistant Branch Manager Megan Clark.

“It’s not as big and flashy as some of our new locations, but it’s well established for the families and individuals who utilize it,” Madrigal said. “We’re in the middle of a residential area. People can plan their whole day around going to the pool and then coming to the Library or the opposite.”

Madrigal loves the tall windows with lovely views. “There’s a lot of nature. It kinds of spills over into the trees behind it,” she said. “It’s just a peaceful place for people to hang out.”

Madrigal and Clark are especially looking forward to building improvements planned for the first half of 2023. The branch will get all new shelves, furniture, carpet and paint throughout, new heating and cooling systems and other upgrades.

“We are just really investing in the infrastructure of the building to make sure it’s good for the next 30 years,” Madrigal said.

The branch will shut down for about ten weeks, with the timing not yet certain.

Madrigal started as branch manager in November 2019 and Clark in January 2020, just prior to the pandemic. They are pleased to see a gradual return to normalcy, with the meeting room back open and used heavily by homes associations, scouts and other groups. Storytime returns sometime next year. The branch is now a polling place and a Red Cross blood drive location.  

Shawnee’s door count has dropped significantly since the Monticello branch opened in 2018. Still, Shawnee maintains a loyal patron base of families, students and avid readers. It had 78,815 visitors and circulated 136,406 items in 2021.

A large senior living development with apartments and villas is opening nearby in 2023, and their social coordinator has already reached out to Madrigal for information about Library services.

Clark sees the Shawnee Library as a crucial, welcoming community hub.

“I think it’s going to be maybe even more beautiful when we have the renovation,” she said. “Even though we’re not one of the busier branches, it’s a nice destination for our patrons. We have a hard-working staff  who make it what it is, and provide the service to make them want to come back.”

Christian Madrigal and John Keogh

Branch Managers Christian Madrigal and John Keogh

Library Exploring Enhancements for De Soto, Spring Hill, Edgerton

Johnson County Library is exploring innovative ways to refresh buildings and enhance services at its smaller community branches: De Soto, Spring Hill and Edgerton.

The DeSoto, Spring Hill and Edgerton Conceptual Design Study began with community engagement surveys, resulting in about 350 responses, and a virtual listening session earlier this year. Staff and patrons offered numerous suggestions relating to hours, cosmetic updating of Library space and requests for services and programming.

“We know these communities have grown and changed,” said John Keogh, branch manager for Gardner, Spring Hill and Edgerton. ”We know it’s been a while since we did a major reconsideration of how we provide services to the community branches.”

Johnson County Library has engaged Clark & Enersen architects to study creative ways to refresh the Library spaces. Conceptual designs are expected to go to the Library Board in August.

The intent is to fund these projects with Library reserve dollars, and future discussions will involve the budget and construction phasing timeline.

The timing is right for this evaluation. The De Soto and Spring Hill branches both opened in 1982. Although well maintained, they have not seen major renovations since then, while those communities have become growing population hubs.

The Edgerton branch, the only library building not owned by the Library Board, was the result of the town’s successful campaign to repurpose an existing building in 2000. The building is underutilized. Work anticipated for this facility would address condition issues.

The Edgerton City Council is currently considering building a community center in close proximity to the Library branch which is an opportunity to create synergy between the two civic amenities.

In community survey responses, patrons frequently asked for more meeting and study spaces, updated interiors, extended hours of operation, popular collections and more natural light.

Patrons want best sellers and high demand fiction, and the Library is working to accommodate those desires, said Christian Madrigal, Branch Manager for Lenexa City Center, Monticello and De Soto. “We have a great collection department, which keeps lists on things which are very popular,” he said.

The De Soto, Spring Hill and Edgerton study includes three topics, which staff will continue to develop recommendations for:

  • Creative use of existing available space. The Library is exploring ways to move walls and reconfigure the physical space at De Soto and Spring Hill for meetings, tutoring, book clubs and other gatherings.
  • Branch hours. Johnson County Library is analyzing requests for more evening and weekend hours and whether those would actually be utilized. Hours of operation are established by Library policy and can only be changed by the Board, so this will require considerable research. The last change to hours was in early 2015.
  • Expanded patron access. The Library is also looking at innovative service models to allow patron access the buildings when it is convenient to the patron, even when staffers aren’t there. This requires an understanding of national Library trends and the resources necessary for and risks to providing the service. The Library could potentially pilot a new service model at one of these locations.

Construction work of this scope would require these locations to be closed during construction, but patrons could visit nearby branches including Gardner and Monticello.

“Access is very important,” Madrigal said.

As the concept design study wraps up later this year, the budget will be refined. Contingent on Library Board approval, design and construction work at the first of these locations is anticipated to begin in 2023, and would be phased as resources allow.

De Soto Library: Past, Present, Future

The De Soto Library, at 33145 W. 83rd St., is one of three small community branches on the outskirts of the Johnson County Library system, along with Edgerton and Spring Hill. These branches are seen as vital anchors and gathering spots, integral to the fabric and character of their close-knit towns. 

For Lori Ross, a lifelong De Soto resident and system-wide materials handling clerk with Johnson County Library, the branch is an institution and a wonderful resource for northwest Johnson County, west of Shawnee and Lenexa. 

“It’s a good staple of the community,” Ross said. “It’s very much a connection to the world.” 

For Branch Manager Christian Madrigal, De Soto is special because it’s a small branch where many patrons know each other and get to know the staff, talking about favorite books and developing positive relationships. 

Especially before the pandemic, many residents used the branch for access to the entire Johnson County Library collection. In 2019, the branch had 1,735 card holders and a collection of 15,373 materials. It had 30,000 visits that year and a circulation of 37,000 items.  

“I think the community really utilized the Holds system there,” Madrigal said. “Lots of people dropped in to use computers for job searching and to stay connected. We still have two regulars who come in every day to get the newspaper and stay current.”  

For years, the branch had an active book club whose members hope to resume meeting soon. It remains a popular hub for teens, families and retirees who check out materials and rely on the Library Wi-Fi. 

The branch has a storied history, and Lori Ross has an especially meaningful connection to its origins. Her great-grandmother, Edna Ross, started the first De Soto lending library in the mid-1950s, with books on shelves in the family’s store, Ross Electric and Plumbing Shop, on the town’s main street. That lending library lasted until Johnson County Library started providing a weekly bookmobile stop in 1957. By 1966, the bookmobile was so popular that it was parked in town and manned by volunteers.  

In 1967, the prominent Coker family built a 1,200-square-foot Library at a convenient downtown location, next to the Post Office, near an elementary school, and just down the street from the Ross family store. The original facility, which opened in October 1967, had 3,000 titles and was leased by Johnson County Library.  

De Soto continued to grow in population. By the early 1980s, it was clear the community needed a larger Library. A 3,776-square-foot building was constructed on the same site and opened in June 1982. That’s the Library that Lori Ross visited almost daily as a schoolchild for books and to hang out with friends. This year marks its 40th anniversary.   

Ross and her mother Kathy now run the De Soto Historical Society on the upper floor of the old Ross family store, a block from the Library. The proximity is wonderful; people often visit the Historical Society and then head to the Library just as it opens. 

Madrigal is excited that Johnson County Library is embarking on a renewal study for its community branches and is holding Listening Sessions to get patron suggestions. Working with Clark & Enersen architects, staff is looking at how to maximize the building for programs, possibly using temporary partitions to create meeting spaces. Other requests are to enhance the Spanish language collection, offer MakerSpace software and expand Library hours. 

Madrigal is optimistic about the future, with the renewal study serving as a roadmap. It will be, he says, “an opportunity to provide or extend Library services that can match or be taken into consideration with our staff and patron feedback.” 

Initial Design Unveiled for New Library in Merriam

Johnson County Library, in partnership with the City of Merriam, is excited to share initial renderings of our new Library with the community. The 15,000 sq. ft., single-story building will replace the existing Antioch Library, which has served the community since 1956. The square footage is similar in size to the branch portion of the Antioch building, so the size of the collection will not change. The new Library, located on the Merriam Community Center campus off Slater St., will include several 21st century amenities that can adapt to community needs for another 60-plus years.
 
This design, by Dake Wells Architecture, is the result of collaboration between the Library, the City, and you! Our goal is to complement the existing architecture and landscape on the Community Center campus, creating a jewel for the city and a destination for residents and visitors from across the metro to play, work, relax, and discover.
 
We’ll share more details about this project this summer once the design and materials have been finalized. Until then, here are a few ways we are incorporating your feedback from last year’s public input sessions into plans for the new library:

  • An eco-friendly green roof creates a visual extension of the current landscape;
  • The expansive “front porch” offers a welcoming outdoor space for campus visitors;
  • Sculpture-like light monitors on the roof provide natural light and a connection to nature;
  • Cozy window nooks along the east and west sides of the building preserve a beloved feature of the existing Antioch building;
  • A drive-thru window adds convenience for on-the-go materials returns and holds pickups.

Other anticipated improvements include new shelving that offers greater accessibility and sight lines throughout the branch, a variety of comfortable seating options, study spaces and a meeting room, new computer technology, and an interactive kids’ space.
 
We know that libraries are more than just a building—they are a collection of people of different ages, interests, abilities and needs. No matter who you are, how you want to use the library, there will be a space for you at our new Library in Merriam!
 
Construction is anticipated to begin early 2023, with the new Library open to the public in 2024. More information to come via jocolibrary.org and merriam.org; until then check out a 3D model of the new building at Antioch Library May 9-31, and in the Merriam Community Center lobby beginning June 1. 

De Soto, Edgerton, and Spring Hill Renewal Study

Johnson County Library invites you to share your thoughts on how our community branches in De Soto, Edgerton, and Spring Hill can better serve you and your families, friends, and neighbors.

Your honest feedback during the De Soto, Edgerton, and Spring Hill Library Renewal Study will guide the conceptual designs our Library Board will review and approve later this year, with construction anticipated to begin in 2023.

Share your thoughts in one of two ways:

  1. Join us for our virtual event:
    Join our Information and Listening Session 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3. You will hear from Library leadership and representatives from our design team Clark & Enersen about the project before splitting into breakout rooms for the individual branches. Registration is encouraged but not required.
     
  2. Take a survey:
    Tell us about your experiences with our Library services and facilities in this quick survey. The survey will take approximately five to 10 minutes to complete and contains a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.

Please contact us with any questions regarding this study. Thank you in advance for your time, and we look forward to seeing you soon at the Library!

Central Resource Library is fully open once again!

The main portion of Central Resource Library has been closed since February 2021, and we have all been eagerly awaiting reopening. We are excited to announce today is the day! 

Find the ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by County Librarian Sean Casserley on our Facebook page! Watch it live at 2 p.m. or watch the video later.

What's changed? Among the highlights:

  • More study/conference rooms. This project will add or relocate five public study/conference rooms, as well as rooms on the staff side – adding availability for patrons.
  • An expanded, relocated Kids area (see our time lapse video capturing the transformation of the space) with more natural light, window seating and a storytime room.
  • A new drive-thru for patron returns and holds pick-up.
  • Materials Handling efficiencies. Our materials handling spaces, through which new materials, holds and other Library items flow, are being reorganized for operational efficiency. We anticipate this will result in materials being available for patrons more quickly throughout the entire Library system.

Welcome back! Come discover all the wonderful changes.

Come Discover our New Kids Area at Central Resource Library

This time lapse video, shot over the course of 24 days with four cameras, shows the beautifully complex, coordinated and choregraphed dance involved in moving our collection into the newly relocated and expanded Kids Area at Central Resource Library! What changes await you to discover?

  • Brand new shelving
  • More natural light with wonderful views of Strang Park
  • Window seating 
  • A storytime room
  • And so much more!

So, do you have a minute? Come discover the transformation! It's almost an entire month in one minute.

Central Resource Library Temporary Closure

The “Little Central” portion of Central Resource Library will close beginning Monday, Feb. 14 to prepare for the building’s full reopening on Tuesday, Feb. 22. If you've been using Little Central facilities, please take note: 

  • Please contact us no later than Thursday, Feb. 10 if you would like to pick up your available holds from another branch during the closure period.
  • Holds not picked up by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13 will remain on the holds shelf an extra seven days from their original expiration date. Please check your Library account for specific dates.
  • If you have items checked out that will be due during the closure, please return your items to another branch or renew materials through your Library account. 
  • For public computers and access to the collection, please visit one of our other 13 locations during the closure period. 

Our Construction FAQ contains additional information about Central Resource Library’s reopening, which includes a live-streamed ribbon-cutting ceremony on our Facebook page at 2 p.m. on Feb. 22. 

Thank you for your patience as we work to improve your Library experience. We look forward to welcoming you back to the building!