There is a lot of excitement about the new Advanced Learning Library under construction downtown – and rightly so. But it is important not to forget about the branch libraries. For many Wichitans, their neighborhood branch is the primary way they interact with Wichita public libraries. And a new study by Wichita State University found that those branches need work. In some cases, such as the Westlink branch, they are too small and need to be expanded or relocated. Other branches need additional services and resources. The holdup has been money – and priorities. Wichita spends only $22.38 per resident on its libraries – significantly less than the national average of $36. That’s also the lowest funding level among comparable cities and counties across the region. The new downtown library will be wonderful. But don’t neglect the branches. – Phillip Brownlee
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