One of the Mid-Continent Public Library’s main objectives in winning voter approval for a levy increase a year ago was improved access to services. Another step in that direction comes Jan. 2, when most of the system’s more than 30 branches expand their hours.

Blue Springs and Independence branches will be open on Sundays.

“It’s been something the public has wanted for years,” said Library Director and CEO Steve Potter.

He said officials went to library patrons this year in a series of 29 meetings across the three-county system and asked about the best options for added hours. The library also did surveys and talked to its own staff to come up with the new plan.

Here’s what the new hours will look like for area libraries:

• Blue Springs North, Blue Springs South, South Independence and Colbern Road will add Sunday hours. Weekdays stay the same: 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 6 on Friday. Saturday shifts to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., opening and closing an hour later. Sunday hours will be 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

• Grain Valley, Buckner and Oak Grove will be open for slightly more hours, though there is a shift in five of the six days they are open. The new schedule will be 9 to 8 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 6 Friday and 10 to 6 Saturday.

• The Midwest Genealogy Center, popular with out-of-town visitors coming in for a weekend of family history research, is losing two hours overall but gaining five hours on the weekend. New hours will be 10 to 8 Monday through Saturday and 1 to 8 Sunday.

• North Independence opens and closes an hour later on Saturday. The new schedule will be 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 6 Friday, 10 to 6 Saturday and 1 to 5 Sunday.


Work zones

The levy increase is paying for $86 million in projects and program expansions.

The Blue Springs South branch on Missouri 7 is among those in the first round of significant facilities improvements. That $1.17 million in work includes enclosed program space, collaboration rooms, a new roof, parking lot repairs, a new sign, outdoor seating, skylights and added outlets. It’s to be done by mid-2018. Blue Springs North, on Hunter Drive, gets $933,000 in much the same work, done by early 2019.

Other projects:

• A 400-seat auditorium at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence is part of the first round of projects and should open by mid-2019. It’s to be connected to current building but have a separate entrance so community events there aren’t tied to library hours. Cost for the auditorium and other work: $5.78 million.

• South Independence on 35th Street got significant upgrades recently with a private donation. More improvements are coming by early 2019 – parking lot, doors, sign, skylights, new display cases – at $398,000.

• North Independence, which was heavily renovated in 2010, gets $584,000 in work by early 2019 – a new roof, new doors, landscaping, signs and lights.

• Buckner gets $303,000 in work by early 2019 – a new heating-and-cooling system work, parking lot work, sign, carpeting.

• Oak Grove gets $514,000 in work by mid-2018 – landscaping, sign, carpet and paint, outdoor seats, display cases and an updated entrance.

The Colbern Road branch is being expanded into one the system’s destination libraries, along the lines of North Independence. That $9.95 million project should be done by mid-2021.

A new branch in east Independence is pencilled in for late 2022. Plans for a new location for the Grain Valley branch are still to be worked out.