Mid-Continent Public Library, officially known as Consolidated Library District #3, is a consolidated public library system serving Clay, Platte, and Jackson Counties in Missouri, with headquarters in Independence, Missouri.
Mid-Continent Public Library is the largest public library system in the U.S. state of Missouri by number of volumes and size of budget. Its collection ranks among the 100 largest libraries in America, which includes university, public, and private collections, and is among the nation's 20 largest public library systems. (Note: The Kansas City Public Library is a separate library system with facilities primarily serving Kansas City in Jackson County, Missouri.)
On May 8, 2014, the Mid-Continent Public Library received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service during a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. The medal is the country's highest honor awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Mid-Continent Public Library's roots go back to the Independence Public Library, formed by the Independence Library Association in 1892 and the creation of the Citizens Improvement Association Library (later the Carnegie Library) in Excelsior Springs in the 1890s.
After World War II, Clay, Platte and Jackson counties formed countywide library systems. They began collaborating in the early 1960s, and on November 10, 1965 Clay and Jackson formed the Mid-Continent Public Library Service as a joint administrative body, though each library retained separate governing boards and budgets.
Even though they remained separate, their combined resources allowed them to merge administrative costs. Gaining the name Mid-Continent Public Library in 1968, the library system was well on its way to achieving its goal. Separating library services from school districts enabled them to expand library services to rural areas, which presently did not have services.
Platte County joined the group in 1968. In 1978, seven years after the state legislature passed a law allowing for consolidated multi-county library systems, the Clay and Jackson libraries officially merged to form Consolidated Library District No. 3. Platte County joined a year later.
A notable librarian, James A. Leathers, was influential in the creation of a regional library system and became the first Director of Mid-Continent Public Library Service. His focus was to provide education, information, and recreation to the public. His desire was for the library to serve all individuals regardless of age, and he aimed to provide services for the young as well as the elderly.
The library system is overseen by a Library Board of twelve members, four appointed by County Commissioners in each of the service region's three counties. It currently has 31 branches in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area of Missouri located in Kansas City, Independence, Liberty, Gladstone, Lee’s Summit, Grandview, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, and other cities. It also hosts two installations at community centers in partnership with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department that provide automated library services and public Internet access.
In 1994, the Mid-Continent Public Library began to see advances in technology. It made improvement with circulation, intra-library loan, and online catalogs. In 1995, dial-up Internet access was provided for catalog use. In 1996, the full access to Internet was provided. In 2001, WorldCat was added to the online databases.
In fiscal 2008-2009, the collection held 3,544,072 items. Total annual circulation was 9,183,005 items, and it filled 1,773,586 intra- and interlibrary loans. Branch libraries served 4,673,737 visitors. Total attendance at live programming events for adults and families and for children was 318,639 patrons. The system has 466,344 registered borrowers.
Annual circulation for the year exceeded one-half million items for each of the Mid-Continent Library’s five busiest branches: Liberty, Lee’s Summit, Colbern Road, North Independence, and Blue Springs South.
The system has one of the nation’s largest Summer Reading Programs, which was completed by 106,846 patrons in fiscal 2009. It is known for its array of services, including more than 250 online learning tools and research databases with remote access, downloadable audiobooks, and Library-by-Mail for homebound patrons. Library branches offer self-checkout machines and self-service hold pick-ups, and LCD flat-panel monitors on every on-site public access computer. Most branches also offer free wi-fi access. The library system collaborates and partners with local foundations.
On 21 June 2008, Mid-Continent Public Library inaugurated the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. It is the largest stand-alone public genealogy research facility in America.
The 52,000-square-foot (4,800 m2) building houses a unique collection of records in almost completely open stacks. It holds 80,000 family history books, 100,000 local history items, 565,000 rolls of microfilm, and 7,000 maps. It also contains all available U.S. federal population census records and federal indexes, Civil War histories, immigration and naturalization records, ship passenger lists, Native American records, biographical archives, manuscripts pertaining to the American slave trade and the Antebellum South, Papers of the St. Louis Fur Trade, and a large variety of state records for Missouri and other states such as state censuses, tax records, penitentiary records, military service records, compiled records of Missouri Union and Confederate Army soldiers, approximately 50 Missouri newspapers, local newspaper indexes to obituaries and weddings, and genealogical periodicals. The center also has 10,000 volumes available for circulation in the “Genealogy from the Heartland Collection” created from donations by the American Family Records Association (AFRA), Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA), Heart of America Genealogical Society (HAGS), Gann Family Association, and patron contributions.
The center’s equipment includes microfilm reader-printers, self-digitization stations, and free access to important research databases. It offers many advanced services, including free wireless Internet access and digital video conferencing capabilities for viewing national broadcasts relevant to genealogists and family historians. The Midwest Genealogy Center is open seven days per week. Groups and tours are welcomed by appointment.
During a Kansas City event, a display containing the words “Black Lives Matter” was questioned by a couple of off-duty police officers. They expressed their opposition to the material. While the library did change the title of the display, they kept the books on display. They stated that the title referenced a movement, and they retitled it to simply reflect the content. In this instance, library workers made a choice to keep the books on display, regardless of unpopular opinion, and they decided that all voices should be heard.Antioch (Gladstone)
Blue Ridge (Kansas City)
Blue Springs North (Blue Springs)
Blue Springs South (Blue Springs)
Boardwalk (Kansas City)
Colbern Road (Lee’s Summit)
Lee’s Summit, Oldham Parkway
Midwest Genealogy Center (Independence)
North Independence (Independence)
North Oak (Kansas City)
Red Bridge (Kansas City)
South Independence (Independence)
Woodneath Library Center (Kansas City)