The need for a library to serve the portion of Johnson County between State Line Road and Metcalf south of I-435 was first noted in the 1979 Johnson County Library facilities plan. The area was rapidly developing with both residential areas and retail/commercial space. Ten years later planning for a library in the area was underway with the 1990 facilities plan calling for opening a building in 1992.
Of course, planning always takes longer than expected. But things were moving along. The Marned Corporation, the developer of Town Center Plaza donated land for the Leawood City Hall and for an adjacent library. Bonds were sold and the design finalized in mid-1992. Construction began in 1993. The name chosen for the new library honored the city of Leawood and the nearby pioneer trails to Oregon, Santa Fe, and California that passed nearby from the 1820s to the 1870s. The Leawood Pioneer Library opened its doors on May 23, 1994, with its official dedication ceremony on June 18. The opening day collection consisted of 31,060 books and other library materials.
The new library was very busy from the moment it opened. It had been placed exactly where the library planning books said it should be: it a very visible location, in the midst of a regional shopping and dining destination, and just a few blocks from the national headquarters of Sprint which was the biggest employer in Johnson County.
In 1995, its first full calendar year open, Leawood Pioneer circulated 406,001 items. The collection gradually grew to almost 77,000 items. More public access PCs were added. As the library became increasingly crowded the meeting room was lost and seating and work space was at a premium. During its 13 years of the original library it operated very near full capacity every day it was open. Circulation reached toward 600,000. Clearly a larger facility on that site was needed.
The original structure had been built with expansion in mind and plans to do so were in the works from the late 1990s. By 2006 planning and funding were moving forward for an expansion of approximately 8,000 square feet. Neither the Library staff nor the community wanted to go without a library in that neighborhood for a year during construction. Space was found on the east end of the Town Center shopping center, and when the building closed in September 2008, a temporary location opened nearby.
The renovated Leawood Pioneer Library reopened on October 1, 2009. A formal Grand Opening and ribbon-cutting took place on October 17.
By the numbers (2012)
Items circulated (2009): 480,184
Collection total items: 86,564
Number of programs: 120
Staff full-time equivalents: 13.4
Square footage: 19,012