Every so often Community Library patrons are surveyed for input. Surveys ask how well the library is serving the community, items patrons would like to see in the library’s collection, and what new or expanded services patrons want.
At the top of the list over the years has been additional meeting space, quiet study areas, additional parking and a drive-through pick-up and drop-off window. With a $1.2 million Community Library expansion in the works, patrons will get all four.
Community Library director Chauncey Montgomery said the project, slated to begin in the spring of 2016, would add 2,000 square feet of space to the library’s existing 14,000 square feet, and rearrange the interior to create more flexibility.
“We will move the staff offices to the west side of the building and convert the old staff offices to three quiet study rooms,” Montgomery said. “The current meeting room will be enlarged, and have a movable divider so it can be made into two spaces. The children’s area will shift into current staff space, picking up about 500 square feet and be more contained than it is now, allowing us to offer programs in that area.”
Montgomery said there would be a smaller front desk and self-checkout stations, exterior lockers for people to pick up books they’ve ordered but can’t pick up until after regular library hours, and 14 additional parking spaces – 12 of them on the west side of the building. In addition to the drive-through window, there will be a walk-up window for drop-off and pick-up.
“This addition came about as part of our 2008 feasibility study and plan for the building that would have added 8,000 square feet to the library,” Montgomery said. “Then the recession hit and that plan was shelved. As the economy picked up, we started updating our strategic plan. The community said they wanted more meeting room space and a drive-through, so we went back to the designer, who completed this downsized plan.”
Montgomery said the best part about the library expansion project is the ability to pay cash.
“Community Library started a major capital fund when it was built 21 years ago,” Montgomery said. “Any money left over at the end of the year was moved to that account, allowing us to do this without going to the community for additional funds. This is happening because we have local support that made saving possible, especially since the state reduced funding to libraries.”
Montgomery said the Design Group is the architect; the construction manager will be Pepper Construction.
“At this point the only thing we signed is a pre-construction agreement,” Montgomery said. “We’re working on the construction documents right now. Our preliminary date look like March of 2016 when we’ll start, pending construction drawings being completed over the next couple of months.”
Montgomery said the goal is to keep the library open as much as possible during the construction phase to avoid disruption of services; he said they are considering installing a temporary alternate entrance that would be used during part of the seven- to eight-month project.
“Some folks say that, with everybody moving to e-books, why expand the library?” Montgomery said. “But despite e-books, our physical collection continues to be used, and our physical space is used more these days than it ever has been in the past.
“I’m excited about our expansion,” Montgomery added. “To me, our job as a library is a direct response to the needs of the community. This is a result of focus groups over the past several years, and we can respond without asking for money because past local support has made our capital fund possible.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093