July 22, 2014

Library board proposal could shutter Edgerton library

When Edgerton residents donated and built the Bank of Knowledge, a library,

Rita Moore, former Edgerton city clerk, helps renovate a building that today is the Edgerton Bank of Knowledge. Johnson County Library board members will consider a proposal that could shutter the library at its next meeting. The meeting starts at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Central Johnson County Resource Library. File photo

participants who gave nearly $200,000 to the effort to put a library in the community thought generations would be able to enjoy it.

However, a proposal before the Johnson County Library board could shutter the 11-year-old Edgerton Bank of Knowledge.

Board members will discuss possible ways to cut the countywide library system’s budget at a board meeting at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Central Johnson County Resource Library.

The Edgerton library celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2010. Prior to its construction in 2000, the literary mainstay and social epicenter of the community was but a dream for Edgerton citizens, who donated their time and efforts to see that their community had a library.

Local library services disbanded in Edgerton in the 1970s, though residents continued to pay county taxes for the service. Residents started a letter writing campaign in the mid-1980s with the hopes of resurrecting library services. In response, the county offered Edgerton two small rolling book carts that were placed in city hall, where residents could check out the books on the honor system.

Another outcry in the mid-1990s sparked a county proposal to offer Edgerton citizens a “virtual library,” where no books would reside. Instead, it would house a computer in which residents could request books and wait for them to be delivered.

Edgerton residents decided that wasn’t enough. It was an offer the Edgerton City Council rejected.

Former Edgerton council member Mike Schmidt sold the bank building to the community for $1 in 1997, and community officials set to work fundraising to secure the estimated $250,000 necessary to renovate the bank, which was originally built in 1906.

A community block development grant, a donation from the library board itself and more than $50,000 in local fundraising kicked off the project.

The elementary school and area civic groups organized fundraisers – everything from garage sales to raffles to bake sales – in order to raise money for the library.

By 1999, community members were pitching in personally to help with renovations. Local children and city officials worked together to remove debris from the old building. Inmates from Lansing Correctional Facility helped renovate the interior and exterior.

Former city clerk, Rita Moore, recalled the efforts of Edgerton’s “can-do” community when the library celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2010.

“It was the community project for our city,” Moore said. “Everybody came together. You saw volunteers and contributors from everywhere. It was awesome. It was exactly what the community needed.”

Organizers hit another stumbling block as the project neared completion. The county commission sliced the library’s budget.

After a deluge of voices flooded county commission chambers, the commission opted to fully fund the Edgerton project in 2000, the year the Bank of Knowledge was set to open.

When the finishes touches were put on the Bank of Knowledge, including an arch dedicated to Ali Richards, a 10 year old volunteer who died from a brain anyeurism before the project was completed, community members had raised almost $200,000 towards the effort to bring a library to Edgerton.

When it opened in July 2000, then-Edgerton Mayor Frances Cross said the investment the community made would last for generations.

“We have benefited from the amazing generosity of people who have asked to remain anonymous and from the good heartedness of people who may not be considered wealthy by Johnson County standards, but who we consider to be rich in spirit.”

– Corbin H. Crable contributed to this story

Comments

  1. State of Affairs says:

    What a shame if we lose this unique facility. All the labors of the residents that went into it.

  2. kenny pritchard says:

    just some more of north johnson country bull shit, they donot live down here so they do not CARE.

  3. Captain Caveman says:

    Just an additional illustration of how the rest of the county feels about you. County commissioners and the state representatives don’t care if Edgerton and Gardner get the cesspool that will be the BNSF Intermodal; they get all the benefits of making money from the project but have none of the hassle and overhead that you will experience. – JoCo doesn’t care if there’ book learning’ in Edgerton, to them you’re at the ends of the earth.

    I hope you can keep your library, as hard as your citizens have worked over the years you deserve it.

  4. So simple... says:

    …a caveman could do it. Turn a completely unrelated JoCo Library decision into a referendum on the Intermodal and, oddly, Gardner.

    What’s REALLY amusing is the deafening silence from the vocal penny-pincher regulars out here who scream at all the money the government is spending. Where is your applause of the JoCo Libraries, trying to decide how NOT to spend too much money?

    All that aside, I sincerely hope that the JoCo Library people find a way to keep the Edgerton Library open. It is a truly unique and wonderful building that should serve as a pinnacle of the entire county’s library system.

    It’s just too bad that some folks would turn it into a political game.

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    At their Feb. 9, 2012 meeting, Johnson County Library Board members are scheduled to discuss three scenarios for trimming their 2013 and 2014 cumulative budgets, with cuts ranging from $1.6 million to $3.3 million for the two years. The Library’s current Capital Improvement Plan calls for the 2014 closure of the Oak Park Branch and the 2016 merger of the Cedar Roe and Antioch Branches. New budget cutting proposals could hasten those projects, along with reducing services at the Edgerton Bank of Knowledge Branch.

    Board members may consider working with affected communities for less severe alternatives. For instance, if the City of Edgerton can identify possible new revenue sources in 2013, the Library Board could work with them to develop an alternative joint venture community center/library services arrangement. Some board members have expressed a desire to trim the budget in other components of the library system rather than closing branches. Library staff has been asked to bring more details and data to the Feb. 9 Board meeting regarding user visits and core services for each community where a branch library could be closed or services curtailed.

    It has been a Johnson County Library goal to provide easily accessed facilities throughout the county, as permitted by funding and based upon community growth patterns. Library planning standards dictate that 95% of the district’s population be located within 3 miles of a library facility. In 2011, the Library estimated that 90% of district patrons met that goal. There are currently 13 library locations in Johnson County.

    According to Johnson County Commission reports on agency activities, over 26,000 residents remain more than 6-10 miles from a library location in western Lenexa and Shawnee. Land has been purchased for the future Monticello Library branch to serve that area, but currently no funding has been identified for facility construction.

    Due to budget constraints, reductions in district-wide service operations costs have been instituted. Library staffing has been cut by 15% since 2008, the volume of collection materials has been reduced, funding for maintenance and repair projects for aging facilities has been reduced or deferred, the technology systems budget was reduced, the replacement of equipment and furniture has been delayed, and fines for late returns of circulation materials have been doubled.

    Johnson County Library users made an estimated 2,853,069 visits to 13 facilities in 2011. The public read or checked out 7,648,966 items from the Library’s collections. The Library’s website had 4,238,867 page visits in 2011. Figures for branch libraries:
    • Central Resource Library on 87th Street in Overland Park – circulated items unlisted; user visits totaled 455,219
    • Blue Valley Library – unlisted items; user visits 334,011
    • Corinth Library in Prairie Village — 424,472 items; user visits 314,052
    • Antioch Library – 402,199 items; user visits 249,032
    • Oak Park Library – 342,074 items; user visits 216,310
    • Gardner Library – unlisted items; user visits 150,978
    • Shawnee Library — 291,000 items; user visits 145,511
    • Cedar Roe – 272,617 items; user visits 139,428
    • Edgerton Library – 17,810 items; user visits15,732

    Effective Jan. 3, 2012, three heavily used neighborhood libraries (Leawood, Oak Park and Lackman) have had Sunday service eliminated. Operation hours for other branches:
    • Gardner Library is open six days a week (Mon – Sat) for a total of 48 hours.
    • DeSoto and Spring Hill Libraries are open five days a week, each for 34 hours
    • Edgerton Bank of Knowledge Library open five days a week (Tue – Sat), for a total of 24 hours

    Active library cardholders in 2011:
    • Oak Park – 11,911
    • Cedar Roe – 7,733
    • Edgerton — 550

    Operating costs, based on facility personnel and utilities costs, for branch libraries per user visit:
    • Spring Hill — $0.87
    • Leawood — $1.65
    • DeSoto – $2.10
    • Corinth — $2.13
    • Lackman — $2.27
    • Blue Valley — $2.50
    • Antioch — $2.83
    • Oak Park — $2.94
    • Cedar Roe – $3.09
    • Gardner – $3.26
    • Shawnee — $3.43
    • Edgerton — $8.16

    Neighboring libraries closest to Edgerton, of course, are Gardner (5.8 miles) and Spring Hill (11.8 miles).

    The Library Board of Directors must submit their proposed 2013 budget request to the Johnson County Office of Budget and Financial Planning by April 5, 2012. The Board can discuss their request with the Board of County Commissioners in June. The BOCC will adopt the entire County Budget in August 2012.

  6. Thanks, Jerry, for providing the numbers that put this into perspective.

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