More to Celebrate on Lucile Bluford Day: Anticipated Upgrade of Library’s Bluford Branch

Friday, June 30, 2023
Lucile Bluford Day, honoring the namesake of the Library’s L.H. Bluford Branch, arrives Saturday, July 1, with a sense of anticipation.  

A significant upgrade of the vital East Side branch is on the horizon. 

photo of Bluford Branch Library building

The 35-year-old facility at 3050 Prospect Avenue – one of the Kansas City Public Library’s two busiest locations along with the much larger Plaza Branch – looms as a priority as KCPL begins work on a systemwide master facilities plan. The Library already has secured property adjacent to the Bluford Branch, acquiring the former Rent-A-Center space at 3020 Prospect earlier this year with a long-term goal of building a larger new branch and expanding services and resources. 

The facilities planning project will go out for bid this summer, and formulation of a master plan is expected to take six to nine months. It will entail facilities assessments for all 10 KCPL locations, community input sessions, and data analysis and projections. 

The interior of the Bluford Branch was renovated in 2010. But at 15,000 square feet, it now is undersized and struggles to meet the full needs of the surrounding community. Patrons logged into more than 18,000 computer sessions there in 2022, second most among the Library’s 10 locations. The Bluford Branch also saw the highest use of free on-site phone service. 

past event at the Bluford branch

Offerings at the branch extend to U.S. Postal Service services, notary assistance, voter registration, free health and wellness programs, children’s storytimes, teen gaming nights, a Black Classics Book Club focusing on notable African American titles, and winter warming and summer cooling stations. 

In announcing the purchase of nearby property in January 2023, the Library said it would consult with community partners and patrons in determining how to make the best, most impactful use of the land. In previous instances, it has relied on community listening sessions and surveys, among other measures. 

In the interim, fencing has been erected around the property to keep it as clean and uncluttered as possible. 

The Library is continuing to invest in the current Bluford facility during the planning period. Among other things, it has enhanced the teen space and will add computers and install rotating art exhibitions.  

The branch was named for Lucile Bluford, the pioneering Kansas City civil rights leader and former editor of The Kansas City Call, when it opened in 1988. Missouri’s House of Representatives lent statewide recognition in 2016, designating every July 1 as Lucile H. Bluford Day.