Sean Roberts/Staff Photo

Mid-Continent Public Library Antioch Branch Manager Rosalyn Spring stands in front of a rendering of the future Antioch library during a press conference held Thursday, May 17, at JE Dunn Construction in Kansas City.

During a press conference early Thursday, May 17, at JE Dunn Construction in Kansas City, Mid-Continent Public Library System updated the community on some of the Phase I projects of the Capital Improvement Plan that was approved by voters in Clay, Jackson and Ray counties through Proposition L in 2016.

After a lot of planning and community outreach, MCPL announced what projects will begin early this summer.

With the Prop L tax dollars, MCPL will be able to touch all 31 branch locations with the improvement plan and add an additional two locations by 2022.

Of those 33 projects, the Antioch branch at 6060 N. Chestnut Ave. in Gladstone will close to undergo renovations beginning Monday, June 18. The branch is slated to be closed for 20 weeks, meaning it should reopen in November.

“Things that people put on hold will automatically be transferred to our North Oak branch, and that is where we think most of our people will go,” Antioch Branch Manager Rosalyn Spring said. “Also, the Claycomo branch is not far from us, and we are moving our storytimes to their location this summer.”

Spring said many of the guests who frequent the Antioch branch go to several branches in the area already, so many will only be slightly affected. For some others the North Oak and Claycomo branches will be available and will also have additional materials like laptops and staff to help with the increased number of guests at those locations.

In addition to the other branches taking on some of traffic normally seen at the Antioch branch, Spring said she is excited about the library being closed for a while because it provides her an opportunity to do things she and her colleagues have been wanting to do for a long time.

“One thing I’m excited about is it gives us more time to do some outreach to some of our under served areas of our community, due to lack of transportation,” Spring said with a smile. “We are going to be going out to them, especially during our summer learning program.”

While Spring and her full-time staff do community outreach programs and part-time staff are relocated to other locations, the Antioch branch will be undergoing some substantial changes.

On the list of improvements provided by MCPL, the branch will receive a refreshed entryway and signage, a new lounge area near the entryway, a new community room with audio/visual equipment that can hold a maximum of 140 people, three new collaboration rooms for those looking for a quiet group space, a teen area, a children’s area, a new reading lounge and more.

Spring said the collaboration rooms were in the highest demand.

“There’s been more and more demand for the space to come in and work on their laptops. We have the tables to do that — we’ll still have those spaces — but (these are) more quiet spaces for meetings so that they don’t get interrupted and they aren’t interrupting other people,” Spring explained. “We have a lot of people working on school degrees, or they’re business entrepreneurs and they just need a quiet space where they can work.”

Spring said she is excited about a lot of the improvements. She was surprised to hear the building would receive new carpet because she was told the carpet at Antioch was better than any of the other branches.

An expanded facility isn’t the only thing Spring is excited about.

“Yes, the taxpayers voted this in, they appreciate their library, but the nice thing about this is the library doesn’t charge for any of these services, it’s all free to everyone,” Spring said.

She explained that MCPL provides many free services and programs to the people of the counties it serves.

She said it has a trade deal with the Jackson County libraries so their members can use MCPL and MCPL members can use those libraries for free.

She also noted that for students of the Kearney School District, regardless of their county of residence, the library is free to them.

For more information about branch improvements, visit mymcpl.org/Community.

Education and County Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.