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Library Building Project -- Buchanan County Location

The Past

Rolling Hills Library was established in 1961, so we are a relatively young library district.  For a brief period, we operated as a regional library with SJPL, but that was over 20 years ago.  Our district boundaries follow the 1965 city limits of St. Joseph (see this map for more detail).  We have a long-standing agreement with SJPL to offer each other's residents a library card at no charge, and that will not change.

The Present

Our building at 1900 N. Belt Highway was designed as a commercial strip mall with space underneath for a construction business and residence.  The library rented half of the basement until 2003 when the entire building was purchased and renovated.  Currently, we have no tenants in the street-facing units on the upper level and use this space for meeting rooms, library administration, and the Friends of the Library bookstore called Books Revisited.

The Future

Libraries are about PEOPLE, PLACES, and PROSPERITY.  Every community with a high quality of life has a well-funded and active public library.  Our taxpayers deserve the best possible library service with facilities and resources designed to be flexible and become what our users need far into the future.  We have selected a site near the intersection of Faraon and Riverside for the location of our new building.

Building Project FAQ

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about our project.

    • The current building in St. Joseph was built in the 1970s as a strip mall, and was purchased and renovated by the library in 2003.  Because it was never meant to be a library, we have had to make accommodations as needed but it is not the best space for library services.  We want and need a building that will help us offer outstanding library services both now and in the future.

    • Projections are between $16 million and $18 million, which includes land, construction, and interior furnishings for a 36,000 to 37,000 square-foot facility.

    • We have been putting some money away in reserve, and the rest will be financed by certificates of participation (a.k.a., bonds).  No one's taxes will go up, in fact we are asking voters in April 2024 for a tax reduction to "right-size" our operating levy to fund this project and continue library operations.

    • We are negotiating a contract for land within our district boundaries, located near the intersection of Faraon and Riverside on the eastern edge of St. Joseph near Mosaic Life Care and the new UMKC Medical Education Building.  It is important to us that it be easily accessible and also located in our own taxing district.

    • We have talked about this option, but there is not a logical, convenient, and accessible location in this area with a significant population group to justify a library facility.  Of the 24,000 people who live in our library district in Buchanan County, around 18,000 are in or within 5 miles of the city limits of St. Joseph.  Libraries work best when they are located closest to the majority of people who need to use them.  As population grows in other areas of the county, we will be watching to see if a facility is needed elsewhere.

    • Yes, we will continue our reciprocal agreement with St. Joseph Public Library so residents of both districts can get a card at either library system at no charge.

    • The bookstore will come with us!  We still get a ton of donations and want to make sure they are available to the community along with library discards.  It is a great fundraiser for the Friends of the Library and it will continue.

    • Some really amazing public libraries have been made from "big box" renovations (in McAllen, Texas, and in Olathe, Kansas, to name a few).  Unfortunately, neither of the K-Mart locations are in our library's taxing district, and we are committed to first serving the people who pay taxes to our district and making a library that is convenient for these residents.

    • We would like to be able to offer the following:

      • Drive-up book drop and pick-up window.
      • More study rooms.
      • More flexible meeting spaces.
      • Program space with a teaching kitchen and maker equipment.
      • Outdoor program areas.
      • Demonstration gardens.
      • Better customer service with single service desk and open concept shelving area.
      • ... and all on a single level for easier access and supervision.
    • Designing the new building will take about five months to complete with Sapp Design Architects, and should be done by August 2024.  Plans then go out for bid with our construction manager, J.E Dunn, and building can begin as early as December 2024 with completion estimated at the end of 2025 and an opening date in early 2026.

Architect Renderings of the New Building and Site