Orchard Park, one of the eight branch libraries in the Wichita Public Library system, will close this month.
The last day for the branch library, at 4808 W. Ninth St., will be Dec. 19.
The closing marks a sign of the times, some of it stemming from tighter city budgets and advances in technology.
“We opened that library in 1980 as part of the Orchard Park Recreation Center,” said Cynthia Berner, director of libraries at Wichita Public Library.
When it opened, Berner said, the city was creating libraries and recreation centers that offered several services in neighborhoods. For instance, some of the centers have senior centers and health stations.
But the general public’s ability to get information changed dramatically as the Internet became readily available.
“Over time, though, the needs and interests in residents have changed,” Berner said. “In the case of the Orchard Park Library, it has been one of our least used library facilities.
“What we see now in library customers is that people expect to get their information in a variety of formats. Library branches were intended to be a gateway to information access. They are not large enough to keep collections.”
Berner said that of the roughly 1.8 million items loaned to customers through Oct. 31, less than 25,000 were through the Orchard Park branch. The branch also represented only 3 percent of building visits in the library system.
The Wichita City Council voted last year to eliminate funding for Orchard Park. The building will be used by the Wichita Park and Recreation Department to hold yoga and special interest classes.
The Westlink branch, 8515 Bekemeyer, and the Evergreen branch, 2601 N. Arkansas, will provide services for former patrons of Orchard Park beginning Dec. 22, Berner said.
Westlink and Evergreen have large collections of books and other types of media at their branches as well as free Internet service, public computer stations, technology training classes and programs for children, teenagers and adults, Berner said.
“Typically, the larger the library location, the larger the service area,” Berner said. “Both Westlink and Evergreen have seven-day library service, except during the summers when it is six-day service.”
People can still return materials at the Orchard Recreation Center book drop through March 2015, Berner said.