Officials and dignitaries showed up for the ribbon cutting ceremony to signify the reopening of the Platte City branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Mayor Frank Offutt and Platte County R-3 superintendent Mike Reik spoke, as did manager Rachel Rafuse, MCPL board of trustees president Joycelyn Tucker Burgo and MCPL CEO Steve Potter.
Offutt noted how important libraries were for him in his youth, as his mother was a librarian.
He joked he knew how to spell “library” before “cat” and added he learned important lessons like how to take care of books.
“The mayor likes to read and I’m proud to be here and be a part of this,” Offutt said. “Libraries are important during my time and for future generations that they have a sustained environment to have access to books.”
The upgrades include updated furniture and carpet, improved WiFi access and a new children’s area, which Rafuse called her favorite. During the last fiscal year, there 48,240 visits to the branch with a circulation of 139,664 and 5,052 attended programs.
Reik, a former first-grade teacher, noted his appreciation for the children’s area as well.
“Libraries are so much cooler than a place to get books, this is a nerve center, an epicenter of the community and I like to think we share that with the public libraries,” Reik said. “We are proud partners and we partner on so many things for our children. We look forward to continuing that partnership.”
The Platte City branch is one of the newest in the MCPL chain of more than 30 branches. Each of those branches will undergo some kind of remodeling work or renovation by 2022 — after voters passed prop ‘L’ in 2016 to hike funding for the library system. The first of the 31 library renovations and re-openings came in Weston last month.
Potter noted in terms of history, the Platte County library was the first in the entire state — founded prior to World War II. The original library burned down in the early 1970s and has since made two moves to the current location at NW Prairie View Road.
Former board member Jim McPherson, who runs the Weston Chronicle, was on the board when the current Platte City branch was constructed and Potter thanked him for ‘giving them good bones to work with’ on this construction project done in cooperation with J.E. Dunn Construction, Sapp Design and Helix Architecture and Design.
Tucker Bargo joined the board in 2003 and recalled the memories of the construction of this facility at the infancy of her tenure — which opened in October of 2006.
Rafuse, who is in her 11th year working for the library, oversees a staff mixed with a total of 20 part/full-time employees. During the down period — about two months — the library was able to still provide programs though help from the school district and Platte County Community Center North.
“I’m very excited about everything that has happened,” she said. “The community has been very patient the past few months. We are really excited to see familiar faces in this building.”
Bee Creek Cafe and Bakery provided snacks and beverages for the event, while Platte City Floral handled the arrangements. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, an open house was held on Saturday. Guests at each event were given a one-time use token to help erase a library fee up to $10, while a mobile scavenger hunt started on Dec. 13 and runs through Dec. 31. A $50 gift card to Bee Creek Cafe and Bakery goes to the winner.
“There is a long history (here) and we are excited for the great new facility,” Potter said. “Platte City is one of our new facility but there is still plenty of opportunity to meet the demands of the customers and create a space for all the amenities that the 21st century users needs and wants.
“This is an ideal location to learn, grow and connect with one another.”