Now that the $38 million Advanced Learning Library in downtown Wichita is complete, city leaders are turning their attention to the six neighborhood libraries.
Under a master plan approved by the Wichita City Council on Tuesday, most of the branch libraries will get minor renovations, like new street signage, and programs tailored to the communities they serve — like a computing hub at Linwood, and more materials by African-American authors and artists at the Maya Angelou Northeast branch.
City Council member Bryan Frye was on the committee that drafted the master plan.
“This is ... a very good plan to address the programming and opportunities at each one, make them unique, make them fit the neighborhood requirements," he said, "not trying to duplicate services but really providing to our citizens what they need out of their branch libraries."
The city will also expand the Westlink branch and move the Linwood branch library from the neighborhood recreation center to a location in southeast Wichita.
A year ago, the city was planning to close Linwood, citing a survey of the library system that said more than half of residents there had used the central library instead. But after moving some funding from street maintenance, the city reversed its decision and funded the library system for the 2019 budget year.
"What a difference a year makes," Mayor Jeff Longwell said. "It's nice that we have a budget that looks pretty promising right now. We can expand programs like aquatics and now libraries and not have the discussions about continuing to cut and chop."
Work has already begun on an updated Evergreen Library complex, which the Wichita Public Library wants to complete by 2020.
Each individual program in the master plan will need to be approved and included in the city's Capital Improvement Program budget.