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Johnson County's Central Library Branch Re-Opens After Major Renovation

Jim Mathis for Johnson County Library
The expanded MakerSpace offers a workshop for 3D printing, recording audio and video, and using electronics.

Christopher Leitch, the library's community relations coordinator, says after nine months of construction at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, there was lots of anticipation — even before the doors re-opened to the public at 9 a.m. on Friday. 

"We had a line of people at 8:45 a.m., waiting for their new library to be available," said Leitch. 

The $3.6 million renovation to the library at 9875 W. 87th Street in Overland Park, Kansas, was funded by a sale of bonds approved by the Johnson County Commission last year. Commissioners also agreed to a property tax increase to fund transit, parks, and libraries. 

Credit Jim Mathis for Johnson County Library
Johnson County Library
A view of the stacks in the Central Resource Library.

Patrons will notice a much different library, says Leitch, when they walk inside.

"The change in the quality of light in the space, and just the brightness and the 'upbeatness' in the environment is really marked," he says, "and everyone mentions it." 

The 20-year-old library now boasts a MakerSpace studio, that's six times larger than before. This workshop offers a 3D printer, a green screen for video productions, an expanded editing suite, and training software. 

"That's going to be in really high demand. There was high demand for it, and that's why we expanded the space — with generous help from Black & Veatch and the Kauffman Foundation," Leitch says.

"We know that many, many people are curious about that technology, may not have been able to afford to experiment or explore with it previously. And now the library gives them that opportunity." 

Other additions include a 150-seat community room for nonprofits and groups, a used bookstore, and a training lab with a bank of 60 computers.

According to Leitch, about 350,000 people visit the library each year. That number is expected to increase with the new amenities.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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