July 27, 2021
Construction of the Green Hills Library Center is now underway and will be complete in about a year. When district residents endorsed Mid-Continent Public Library’s vision for the future by passing Proposition L in 2016, updating and upgrading all its facilities, including the replacement of the Boardwalk Branch, were part of the plan.
If you’ve ever tried to reach the Boardwalk Branch from the west, you know it is very challenging! For this and many other reasons, replacement of the aging and “well-loved” branch has been long overdue. Its replacement, the Green Hills Library Center, will be on Green Hills Road, just south of Missouri Highway 152. It will be more than twice the size of the current Boardwalk Branch and will include a stand-alone coffee shop, a dedicated storytime room, and several community rooms of many sizes, and of course, books, computers, Wi-Fi, and all the services you find at any MCPL branch.
Unique to this branch, however, will be the first public library culinary literacy center in the region. A version of this concept has been employed successfully in other public libraries, notably The Free Library of Philadelphia and Fayetteville Public Library. MCPL staff have been working with those libraries to perfect our plans. In a future blog, I’ll share with you why culinary literacy perfectly correlates with MCPL’s Strategic Plan. But for now, you may be more curious about what “culinary literacy” even means!
Culinary literacy means helping people learn both through and about food and food preparation. Cooking is a popular library topic, and you likely know that one of the largest and most popular sections of any public library is the cooking and nutrition section. To that end, there will be a culinary classroom in Green Hills to build on an already popular subject.
Through our workforce development efforts, we plan to develop some entry-level training in the Culinary Literacy Center’s classroom. MCPL will collaborate with schools, colleges, and certification programs to help people learn skills and be ready to work in the food service industry on day one. Helping people acquire these credentials is a great benefit to the local economy.
Another part of the Center will include incubator kitchens. MCPL’s Square One Small Business Services has seen considerable success in supporting local food-based businesses, including food trucks, and helping people scale up their food businesses. During an environment scan, we found nothing in the region similar to the incubator kitchens available in the southern part of our district, which offer critical support to small, food-based businesses. So, like our efforts with Philadelphia and Fayetteville, we’ve been working closely with staff at the Ennovation Center to learn how to do it right.
Whether it is helping a food truck have the space to prepare for the day’s work, or helping businesses move from a home kitchen to an environment that allows them to sell in grocery stores, the incubator kitchens will be very valuable to the community.
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director and CEO
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