Library Exploring Enhancements for De Soto, Spring Hill, Edgerton

Christian Madrigal and John Keogh

Branch Managers Christian Madrigal and John Keogh

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.