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Lucile H. Bluford Branch - Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library

Are books the enemies of successful libraries? The $1.3 million renovation of the Lucile H. Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library appears, at first glance, to make such a case. Shelves that used to reach for the ceiling now stop at the waist. But without stacks crowding sightlines, the branch feels twice as large. Along with a more open floor plan, new lighting and a bold color palette (orange, green, fuchsia), this redesign creates a much more inviting environment. Library officials wanted utility to match pleasantness, so the number of computers went from 27 to 80. Also, the branch no longer recognizes its namesake with a bust stationed near the restrooms. Patrons now get to see larger exhibits that tell the story of the woman who challenged segregation at the University of Missouri before she became editor and publisher of The Call. In May, Bluford surpassed the Plaza Branch in number of visitors, and circulation increased by 80 percent when the branch reopened.

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