September 22, 2017

Library Construction Update: New and Renovated Buildings, 08/16/11

July 19 marked the grand opening of the 3000 square foot addition to the Morrisville Public Library, NY, following nine months of construction. A member of the Mid-York Library System, Morrisville Public Library was established with 760 volumes in 1903 in the 1850 Gothic Revival–style home of Henry and Mary Phelps, donated by their daughter, Susanna Phelps Gage (1857–1915). With nearly 18,000 volumes, the current library has gained the space it so desperately needed; as library manager Michelle Forward told the Oneida Dispatch, the Victorian Gothic cottage was “bursting at the seams.”  The programming space has grown from occupancy of 22 to 95, and the local history collection, which had been closed for nearly five years, is once again open to the public. The $572,000 project was funded through a loan and a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. The new space, situated directly behind the Phelps home, continues the style of the original two-and-a-half-story structure, which, in 2005, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Things were less than tranquil when the new Tranquility Branch Library of Fresno County Public Library, CA, opened on July 23. The 3,484 square foot facility is nearly 6.5 times as large as its 540 square foot predecessor, a 1911 storefront location that had been the library’s home since 1937. Funded through $1.2 million from the State Library Bond Act of 2000, Tranquility now houses a collection of 6,231 items, eight public computers, a meeting room and study room, a homework center, and a bilingual family literacy center. It affords access to Wi-Fi and laptops and express checkout.

Perth Amboy Public Library, NJ, is looking to begin a massive refurbishment of and addition to its 108-year-old Carnegie facility, which is expected to run up a price tag of nearly $10 million. The 12,351 square foot building will nearly triple in size with a 22,500 square foot addition and an expansion as well of the children’s library. Green elements will include the installation of high-efficiency windows and a new roof. The project will retain the original wooden shelving, artwork, and the narrow staircase that separates the stacks. Terra cotta murals representing children’s stories also will be ­restored.

August 3 marked the grand opening of the Nesconset Branch of the Smithtown Special Library District, NY. This classic example of “adaptive reuse” transformed a 25,000 square foot 1961 building formerly used as a National Guard armory into a library for the 21st century, according to BBS Architects & Engineers, the architects on the project. The $8 million undertaking began 14 months ago and is targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. The funding was part of a larger referendum approved in 2008. The ­Nesconset facility serves as one of four district libraries and will be home to administration and technical ­services.

DePaul University, Chicago, has several ongoing construction projects occurring at a number of locations, with one intended to be completed within two months in a seamless, and almost noiseless, manner. The John T. Richardson Library, on the Lincoln Park campus, on July 1 began phase one of a multi­phase rehab to the entire building. The current project in the former home of the DePaul Art Museum includes the addition of new administrative areas and instruction spaces and improvements to Internet connectivity and security, involving full infrastructure upgrades, and renovations. The four-phase construction scheme is expected to come to fruition in 2014.

The charming Whitakers Public Library, NC, completed a total renovation supported through a $79,000 grant from the Cummins Foundation. Cummins Inc. selects projects to fund in cities where it has its engine plants, per the Rocky Mount Telegram. The Whitakers project included making the bathroom handicapped accessible; painting the entire building; and installing new windows, doors, HVAC systems, and lighting. The work was accomplished with the assistance of employees of the Cummins Rocky Mount Elgin Plant. Cummins Inc. pays workers for a maximum of four hours annually spent on community projects.

The new 10,000 square foot Kenmore Library, WA, opened on July 9, more than quadruple the size of its predecessor. A branch of King County Library System (KCLS), Issaquah, the $8.4 million facility broke ground in June 2010 on the site of a former U.S. Post Office. The new building, designed by Weinstein A | U of ­Seattle, encompasses a children’s area, a teen space, a meeting room and study space, and a reading room. Green features include an orientation to promote the use of natural light, raised-floor mechanical systems, use of low-VOC paints and carpeting, and a rain garden that offers sanctuary to local wildlife. The funding is part of a $172 million bond measure passed in 2004. KCLS is Library Journal’s 2011 Library of the Year (LJ 6/15/11).

Originally constructed through Carnegie funding in 1903, the Vermillion Public Library (VPL), SD, is moving forward with plans to expand and renovate its 1978 building. The current 11,000 square foot structure is expected to double in size with the project, looking for a late 2011 start. The city had already obtained a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant, with $1.4 million available from Second Penny sales tax revenue, when it received a donation of $800,000 from longtime Vermillion resident Edith Siegrist. Sadly, Siegrist, who retired from the staff of the University of South Dakoka I.D. Weeks Library in 1988, died on July 31 at the age of 86.

The Patchogue-Medford Library (P-ML), NY, on August 8 received a check presented by Assemblyman Dean Murray (R,C–East Patchogue) in the amount of $153,970 from the $14 million in capital funds approved in the 2010–11 New York State budget, according to The money is earmarked for major upgrades to the library’s mechanical systems and a rearrangement of the children’s area. P-ML received ink earlier this year when library assistant Gilda Ramos was chosen as Library Journal’s Paralibrarian of the Year (LJ 3/1/11).

— Compiled by Bette-Lee Fox

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley ( is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

Design Institute Heads to Washington!
On Friday, October 20, in partnership with Fort Vancouver Regional Library—at its award-winning Vancouver Community Library (WA)—the newest installment of Library Journal’s building and design event will provide ideas and inspiration for renovating, retrofitting, or re-building your library, no matter your budget!