The Weston branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library system became a part of history on Thursday, Nov. 8.
Library officials and Weston residents showed up at the remodeled library for a ribbon cutting ceremony on a sunny and frigid morning.
Prior to that, staff members from the library and Weston mayor Cliff Harvey talked about the project which saw the library close on July 6 for renovations and reopened Sept. 20.
“I’m excited,” MCPL director and CEO Steve Potter said. “This is No. 1. We will do 34 or 35 of these, but Weston gets to be No. 1 and there is only one No. 1. Congratulations to Weston for being our first reopening. We upgraded to better serve the needs of the 21st century library. Gone are the days where a library is where you went simply for books.
“We offer access innovation, information, ideas and inspiration. I think we accomplished that in Weston.”
The ceremony on Thursday was followed with an open house on Saturday where live entertainment — Mr. Stinky Feet — and a scavenger hunt were key attractions. Also handed out was a commemorative coin that could be used one time to cover a late fee up to $10.
Assistant branch manager Misty Atwood was the first speaker on Thursday.
“It was tough at times and we missed seeing all of you,” she said. “Thank you all for being here. It is with great pleasure and excitement I welcome you back to the Weston branch.”
Atwood pointed out improvements included upgraded technology, better WiFi, a display case to showcase local art and collections — an American Girl doll collection is currently on display — and a reading area near the periodicals.
Some of the changes are still awe-inspiring for someone like Harvey, who recalls being a youngster going to the previous location at Thomas and Main streets years ago.
“When I first started coming to the library where there was no such thing as WiFi and no such thing as personal computers and now that is how students do their school work,” Harvey said.
Atwood thanked the West Platte School District for use of facilities for the summer learning program, due to the closure.
The renovation is the first phase of improvements made possible from the funds from Proposition L, passed by voters in 2016. MCPL board president Joycelyn Tucker Burgo noted this was the first tax increase in three decades, which paved the way for the facility upgrades to meet the needs of customers.
The Platte City location, which closed Sept. 20, was reopened recently. There will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony at a later date. Currently, the Dearborn, Camden Point and Edgerton branches are closed for renovations. Patrons are encouraged to visit the Weston, Smithville or Platte City locations.
“Today is not only a monumental occasion for the people of Weston, but a huge milestone for the library system,” Potter said. “We are undertaking a five-year plan that will touch all 31 libraries by 2022. We’ve got our work ahead of us still, but this is the first of many welcome backs and beginning a new chapter for the library district.”
Architects were SAAP Design of Springfield and Helix Architecture and Design from Kansas City. Construction was done by JE Dunn.