WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — It has been five months since the Wichita Public Library closed and moved the Westlink Branch for remodeling. So far, construction hasn’t started, and a viewer reached out to KSN News to find out why.
“Having closed this location and downsized significantly into a temporary location with no visible work being done is causing a lot of concern,” the viewer wrote in an email.
The viewer pointed out that the remodel was originally supposed to be a 12 to 14-month project, and five months have already passed with no visible sign of progress.
KSN News reached out to Sean Jones, Wichita Public Library communications specialist. He said construction has not started yet, “but we’re close.”
“There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into renovating and creating a new library space, and your Wichita Public Library team wants to make sure everything is done right,” he wrote.
Jones said they had to close the branch in May and move it to a temporary location because of internal work to prepare the building, such as removing old furniture and fixtures.
“A lot of the work building up to construction would be disruptive to library services,” he said. “We did not want to interrupt services and move to the temporary location mid-summer, the Library’s busiest time of the year. It was in the best interest of library customers that their use of their library was not unduly interrupted. There also weren’t a lot of spaces available to lease for the temporary location, so the timing worked out in a way we decided to move out before the summer session began.”
As of Wednesday, library staff reviewed the final electrical plan, prepared the furniture, fixtures and equipment package for bidding, and worked on getting the final architectural plans ready for bidding.
“Once bids are reviewed and contractors and vendors are selected, we will break ground,” Jones said. “We understand this process has taken longer than expected. Good things take time.”
“Designing a modern library is very intricate and requires extreme attention to detail, So much so that if an electrical outlet is off just a bit, it can impact a lot of the services we offer,” he said. “All of the decisions we’ve made up until this point have been purposeful in providing our customers the best service.”
We asked him what this means for the reopening date. He said they would have a better idea of that once construction begins.
Before it closed, Westlink was the library’s busiest branch. Jones thanked library visitors for understanding and pointed them to the branch’s temporary space at 7011 W. Central. The location is much smaller and offers limited services. Jones also invited library users to visit some of the Wichita Public Library’s other branches.
On Friday morning, Jones posted some sneak peeks of the planned renovation at Westlink.