A Mid-Continent Public Library project that has been in the works for six years finally got its start on Monday.
Between now and 2022, the library system will update all 31 of its existing branches and build two new ones. The ambitious project was approved by voters in 2016 and will cost $113 million.
"We laid out this idea that we want to change your libraries from book warehouses into sort of community-building incubators," MCPL Director Steve Potter explained.
Rendering of renovated Blue Springs South Branch
Six branches will be closed for either the whole summer or part of it. Both the Blue Springs South and Excelsior Springs branches closed on Monday.
One big change people will see in the buildings is less wide open space.
"What you'll find in practically all of our libraries that are going through renovations is that they will have collaboration rooms, small rooms for 4 to 6 people to get together," Potter said.
A large impetus for the updates is addressing the needs of people coming through the library's doors for eBooks or access to the Internet.
The MCPL system covers a large area, serving 800,000 people in Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties. According to the library, 42 percent of households in the service area have at least one library card.
"The people who are using us for these new resources are finding libraries to be more relevant and more important than ever before," Potter said.
You can review closure and reopening dates for the six branches impacted here.