Sweltering temperatures coupled with broken A/C forces closure of Blue Valley library branch

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- You don't need to read a thermometer to know it's hot.

Thursday's temperatures in the Kansas City metro soared into the high 90's, and the heat index felt like it was closer to 110 degrees. Librarians in Overland Park felt that heat on Thursday, as the air conditioning inside the Blue Valley branch of the Johnson County Public Library stopped working.

Patrons who are used to reading at the popular library branch had to read a sign on the library's front door that read "closed." Library administrators say the location on 151st Street is the most popular of the library's 13 locations. Over 310,000 patrons visited there in 2015, according to statistics provided by library staff.

When librarians locked up that building on Wednesday night, they say the air conditioning was running fine. However, Johnson County Public Library administrators say one of the building's A-C units conked out during the night. That forced library directors, including Adam Wathen, the library system's asst. director of system wide services, to close the library branch until the air works again. The scorching temperatures on the outside are beginning to creep inside.

"That's a heavy load on our air conditioning," Wathen said on Thursday.

Wathen says an HVAC repair crew is working to restore the cool air inside. Until then, the building's air ducts are dead, and the interior temperature hovers well above 80 degrees.

"We decided that it was not going to be comfortable or a good experience for our patrons and we decided to close the library for the evening," Wathen told FOX 4 News.

Dropoff return chutes at the library are working fine, and Wathen says pickup hours are available for books on hold status. The library's drive-up windows will be open Friday and Saturday from 7-11 a.m. for pickup on holds.

'We like to create a welcoming experience and a library without air conditioning is not a welcoming experience," Wathen said.

Until the air conditioning is ready, that sign is all that greets eager readers at the library's front door.

"(It says) the A-C failed," Jaden Davis said.

Davis, a high school student, says she often brings the kids she babysits to the Blue Valley library branch, giving them a dose of education within their fun summer. However, on this afternoon, the front door is locked.

"It's (usually) comfortable and it's quiet and cool," Davis said, explaining the comforts she usually feels inside the library. "Just not today."

Wathen says library managers also want to get the A-C repaired quickly in order to protect the books themselves. Wathen says it doesn't take much heat in the air or much time for mold to spread. He hopes the library will open again sometime next week.

Library managers remind us the other 12 branches of the Johnson County Public Library are open as usual, and the air conditioning feels very nice inside.