Q: What is the history of the Leawood Pioneer Library?
The need for a library to serve the rapidly developing portion of Johnson County between State Line Road and Metcalf, and south of I-435 was first noted in the 1979 Johnson County Library facilities plan. In the early 1990s, The Marned Corporation - which was developing Town Center Plaza - donated the land for what would become the Leawood Pioneer Library to the Johnson County Library. It was a prime location: highly visible from the street, near a popular shopping and dining destination, and just a few blocks from the national headquarters of Sprint which was the biggest employer in Johnson County at the time.
Designs for the new branch were finalized in mid-1992, and construction began in 1993. Finally, the Leawood Pioneer Library opened its doors on May 23rd, 1994, with its official dedication ceremony on June 18th. The library was named in honor of the city of Leawood and the nearby pioneer trails to Oregon, Santa Fe, and California that crossed through the area from the 1820s to the 1870s. The new library was 11,800 square feet, and housed about 31,000 items upon opening.
The library was busy from the start. In 1995 - its first full calendar year open - the Leawood Pioneer circulated items 406,001 times. The collection gradually grew from 31,000 items to 77,000, and more public PCs were added as the years went on. The library became increasingly crowded. The meeting room was done away with, and seating and work space were hard to come by.
The original structure had been built with expansion in mind, and plans to build onto it were in the works from the late 1990s. By 2006 planning and funding were moving forward for an expansion of approximately 8,000 square feet. When the building closed in September 2008, a temporary location opened in the Town Center Mall across the street. The fully renovated and expanded Leawood Pioneer Library reopened just over a year later on October 1st, 2009, coming in at 19,012 square feet. A formal grand opening and ribbon-cutting took place on October 17th.
The branch has remained busy, circulating around 450,000 items per year for the years 2014-2018, and averaging about 240,000 visits per year in that time as well. Not bad for a branch with a service area population of about 37,000 as of 2015.
Items Circulated: 453,472
Square Footage: 19.012
Article researched and originally written by Jerry C. Roy, 2010
Edited and updated by Mike Keller, 2019