Q: What is the history of the Gardner Library?
The first Gardner Library opened in 1960 at 134 E. Main St. in rented space that formerly housed a grocery story. From 1953 to 1960 Gardner was served first for a short time by a small self-service collection, and then by bookmobile. By the mid-1960's its collection had grown to about 8,000 volumes and was circulating about 500 of those each week. In the early 1970's it was increasingly obvious that more space was needed for library service in Gardner.
In the spring of 1978, JCL asked the Board of County Commissioners to issue $4 million in bonds to build a new Gardner Library, new Spring Hill and DeSoto Libraries, as well as a new library in the Blue Valley area. The bonds were sold in 1980 and land was purchased. The new libraries opened in 1982, including Gardner Library at 116 E. Main St. The new libraries were also a County Multi-Service Center, offering the services of several county social services and health agencies.
But Gardner was growing. The population for the city and surrounding township stood at 4,987 in 1980, and by 1990 had grown to 6,079. A larger library was definitely in the cards as the decade progressed. The area was growing faster than anticipated and in 2000 the population had reached 11,549. In 1999 the city proposed that the JCL trade its library on Main Street for a nearby site at Shawnee and Elm. It was a win-win solution for everybody. The old library was adjacent to Gardner City Hall on land needed to expand City Hall. The library was kept downtown in a good location, and the library and city hall could share parking.
Ground was broken for the new library on September 26, 2000, and the new library opened on November 13, 2001. The new building was almost four times the size of the old building at 12,346 square feet and held 25,800 items, almost three times that of the former library. The new building was justified by burgeoning use. In 2002, its first full year of operation 186,050 items were checked out. The 2010 Census showed that the city and township of Gardner together had reached a population of 22,028. In 2017 population was at 26,154. Johnson County Adult Education offers GED classes in the building, one of three location to host JCAE.
Items Circulated: 215,240
Square Footage: 12,346
Article researched and originally written by Jerry C. Roy, 2010
Edited and updated by Terri Bostic, 2019