Promised Johnson County library may be replaced by computer

SHAWNEE, Kan. - The definition of library is a room, a set of rooms or a building-- but it doesn’t say anything about a kiosk.

Kasey Riley, the spokeswoman for the Johnson County Public Libraries said this "lending machine" could hold up to hundreds of book and DVDs that would be dispensed from something like a Red Box.

"A lending machine, obviously which is a play on the word vending machine, is relatively new," she said.

Johnson County commissioners promised a library on the site years ago when they spent $760,000 for a tract of land. A gift from the Sisters of Charity added more land near K7 and Shawnee Mission Parkway, with a stipulation that a library must be built there by 2020.

But critics like Commissioner Ed Peterson said the quickly expanding area has long needed a traditional library but the county has not been able to fund it.

"It's more than just books,” he said. “It's more than just materials that are checked out. There are a lot of research services that are provided in a library branch, children's services."

Although lacking, the kiosk is an interim measure to shore up those services.

"We don't have a plan in place to fully meet the needs of these citizens with libraries and there are examples of other departments in the county," Peterson said.

Riley acknowledges that.

"It will not be a substitute for a full library building, it's an effort to provide service to that part of the community while we work toward a building,” she said.

The clock is ticking because if the library isn't built, the donated land will revert back to the Sisters of Charity.

The Johnson County Chairman said the kiosk and a pilot program will cost $1.2 million and any major library construction will have to wait until late 2015.

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