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Johnson County libraries want the public’s opinion

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- Johnson County officials are envisioning the library of the future and they need the public's opinion to help shape it.

A series of public meetings is underway with two more on Thursday where the public can give their input on what they want to see in then future of the library. One of the meetings will be held  at the Oak Park branch, the other at the Leawood branch.

As the way people read changes, so must public libraries.

Recommendations by a group of advisers include repurposing the current 13 Johnson County Library buildings to create more space for people to meet, adding drive-through lending libraries in quickly growing areas like western Shawnee and staying on the cutting edge of technology by ordering more ebooks.

"We're starting with understanding how our citizens need to use the library and then we'll try to understand and propose how to meet those needs, whether that's new buildings or nontraditional methods of providing information like lending machines, bookmobiles or some other method," Christopher Leitch of the JOCO Library said.

This planning for the project began five years ago.

"Circulation of physical items in our library system continues to grow, nearly 3,000,000 items last year traveled around the county and that is not stopping,"  Leitch  said. "That is actually increasing as we increase the number and type of electronic materials that are available."
By 2040, the libraries expect a quarter of all materials checked out to be in digital form.