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Johnson County Opens Its First New Library In Two Decades

The line to enter Johnson County’s newest public library stretched out the door and around the building Sunday, shortly after the official ribbon-cutting.

The Monticello branch of the Johnson County Public Library in western Shawnee, Kansas, cost $18.1 million and is home to more than 100,000 books and other materials as well as study rooms, computers and public art installations. It’s the library's first new branch in two decades, and it’s been in the works for almost that long.

Plans for a branch in the rapidly growing community began in the early 2000s, but were derailed by the recession, library spokesman Christopher Leitch said.

“We fulfilled our commitment, finally, in 2015 with the renewal of our master plan,” Leitch said. “The community has been in my email inbox, at our board meetings and sending us cards, letters and notes since that time asking when this building is going to open.”

The two-story building near the intersection of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Kansas Highway 7 is equipped with a drive-up window where library patrons can pick up and drop off books as well as an outdoor patio on the second floor. County Librarian Sean Casserley said the new branch is the first facility in the system to include Apple computers with Photoshop for public use.

“It’s a makerspace, but it’s an electronic makerspace,” Casserley said.

The Monticello branch is the first in a series of projects for a county that hasn’t seen a new public library since the 1990s. The Lenexa branch will relocate to a new building in 2019, and a new facility for the Antioch branch will follow.

Nicolas Telep is a KCUR news intern. Follow him on Twitter: @NDTelep

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