The North-East branch of the Kansas City Public Library officially opened at the interim location this week.
The library is undergoing an extensive, 9 to 12-month renovation at the 6000 Wilson Road location.
In the meantime, the library will operate across the street at 5930 Wilson Road, inside the old Peking Garden Chinese restaurant at the Northeast Plaza Shopping Center.
The $4 million renovation is the result of the mill levy that Kansas City voters passed on Nov. 6, 2018.
The 8-cent increase in the property tax based operating levy was the first increase request in 22 years.
The library, while operating in much smaller quarters, will still provide Northeast residents with several great services.
The interim location will provide books, CDs, and DVDs, although the collection will be smaller. Patrons will be able to place items on hold; access the village post office, including purchasing of stamps and post office boxes, use eight public computers, attend youth story times and the Kid’s Cafe.
Because of the smaller space, programming, classes, and activities will be reduced, and no public meeting rooms or private study rooms will be available.
According to Library Branch Manager Amanda Barnhart, despite the reduced space, some new resources will be available to patrons, including an all-in-one unit designed to allow patrons to access the main library’s digital collections.
“We’re bringing our digital collections into the space of our physical collections,” said Barnhart. “You can search our catalog and our e-resources just like you would Amazon, then place them on hold and download them to your personal devices.”
The furniture arrangement is also changing to make the atmosphere more inviting and personal as well as making the best use of the smaller space.
Additional electrical outlets will be available for those who prefer to bring their own laptop computers into the library but may have limited battery life.
Library hours will remain the same: Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The renovation project will include enhanced programming and services, upgraded technology, additional materials, a large-scale renovation of the building, and most significantly, bringing Refugee and Immigration Services and Empowerment (RISE) to the North-East branch.
Joel Jones, deputy director of library services, said these changes are being made so the library looks modern and identifiable to the community.
Barnhart said she hopes this renovation removes some of the fear of entering the library.
“As it stands, this building looks like a government building, shrouded in secrecy because you can’t see into it,” she said. “There are glass security gates and a security officer. There is possible fear. I’ve seen people hesitant to come in, or when they get to the doors, they turn around and go back to their car.”
Barnhart remains optimistic and excited about the possibilities.
“We realize we may lose some people in the short term while gaining others in the interim until we’re back in our larger, renovated space.”
Overall, she said she sees this renovation as a major asset to the Northeast community and her goal with the project always comes back to one thing.
“The continued love and sharing of literacy. That never isn’t a goal of ours,” she said. “It is always our true north.”