Johnson County Central Library set to debut drive-thru, areas kids ‘to let off steam’ | KCUR 89.3


The Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park is set to reopen Tuesday after being partially closed for a year. When the library closed for renovations Last February, staff walled off a small section of the building and called it Little Central to protect patrons from the construction.

Little Central closed on February 14 this year so that workers could complete final touches and tear down the separation wall. Central librarians said they were excited to welcome patrons back to a nature-themed space in staff areas and throughout, which Johnson County Chief Librarian Sean Casserley said , connects employees and patrons to the larger, overriding purpose of the library.

“Having a connection to nature was really important in the sense that it was soothing, relaxing,” Casserley said. “And I think that’s the problem, the role that the public library plays, which is that we don’t have a program. We are not trying to sell you anything. There is no politics. We are completely neutral and our goal is to find something that interests you.

A larger and relocated children’s area

Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga


KCUR 89.3

The chief librarian Sean Casserley past the windows of the children’s section.

The Central Children space is now in another part of the library and is more interactive and open. Large rectangular windows line the back wall, with seats of bright orange window.

Casserley said the new windows fill the space with natural light and connect the children to the Strang Park playground behind the library. When the project went over budget, he said, they were able to build a small playground just outside the library.

“And I think it’s going to be really interesting and something that parents are going to really enjoy,” he said. “If you have a rambunctious or very energetic two year old who needs to let off steam, there will be an area where you can do that outside, or if he is just having a meltdown, that will be great .”


Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga


KCUR 89.3

The new story room offers plenty of space for children to dance, sing and listen to storytelling. Rectangular cushions allow children to arrange the room as they wish.

There’s also a new storytelling room that allows kids to be as loud or lively as they want without disturbing other guests. The room is equipped with furniture cushions for children to rearrange and build with, and Casserley said having a designated room for story time will allow librarians to incorporate song and dance into their sessions. of storytelling.


A brightly colored swirling bench sits in the new children’s area in front of the alphabet wallpaper. Casserley said the wallpaper can help children identify letters.

Convenience through a drive-thru

According to Casserley, when conversations about major renovations began nearly a decade ago, community members expressed a desire for drive-thru. Casserley said it called for major changes and took a lot of building, but he’s proud they were able to pull it off.

“If they (library patrons) want to come and enjoy the building and they have the time, that’s an option,” Casserley said. “If they have mobility issues, or today, like it’s a snowy day and you don’t want to get out of your car, or it’s 106 degrees, and you have a nice outfit and you don’t want to get soaked and sweaty, just drop by the reader, pick up the book.

Library goers can also return books through the wheel, but books that have been put on hold will need to be picked up at reception.


Bek-Shackelford Nwanganga


KCUR 89.3

A Janome sewing machine, one of many additions to the Black & Veatch MakerSpace.

New gear in the Black & Veatch MakerSpace

The MakerSpace is a library department dedicated to people who want a hands-on experience. During the renovations, a handful of new amenities were added to the space. Manufacturers will find two powerful new Trotec laser cutters; a new, faster CNC router that is used to cut patterns in wood; a CNC router room (formerly the recording booth); 3D printers and resin; and other equipment. People will also be able to check Creation Kits to craft at home.

Casserley said while the MakerSpace equipment may seem intense and difficult to use, it is for everyone and staff members can help teach people how to use the equipment.


Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga


KCUR 89.3

The new staff rest room is bright and cheerful.

Updated, open concept staff areas

About 100 staff work at the Central Resource Library and before the renovations, the staff spaces were stuffy and outdated.

Casserley said they designed the new staff space with a strong focus on teamwork, and the improved staff spaces will help employees better serve the community. He said librarians are more friendly and excited to help curate someone’s reading experience than people think.

“We felt that by creating open spaces, future generations of librarians would be able to configure space, meet needs, meet those needs for public service,” Casserley said. “Because libraries may have changed over the last 40 or 50 years. They’re very different today than they were in the past, you know, you still see on TV, the stereotype of the librarian who shushes.


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