As published in Toledo Business Journal - October 1, 2014
Rendering of the Oregon Branch
It’s one of the many unique community gems in the Toledo area. Ranked among the best library systems in the country, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is one of the world-class assets that the region possesses. And its leadership is not content to rely on past successes.
The Toledo area library system continues to place significant new resources in its branch operations. Major projects under way or planned involving five of the branch facilities represent an estimated $20 to $23 million of new investment. The five branches include West Toledo, Oregon, Mott, and two Sylvania facilities.
Toledo Business Journal interviewed Susan Skitowski, branch services manager and Charlie Oswanski, facilities and operations superintendent to learn more about the branch projects being undertaken by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
“A number of issues are driving our need to upgrade branch facilities,” stated Skitowski. “There are a large contingent of our branches that last had work done in the 1980s and 1990s. If you think about the technology changes that have taken place, one of the driving needs for the planned upgrades is to address these technology needs.
“Another issue is that people have increased their use of downloadable materials. This has had a significant change on the space needs in our branches.
“Further, we now need rooms and spaces in our branches that are flexible and can be divided and subdivided. We want to accommodate groups that use our facilities.
“Also, society is different today. People have so many demands on their time. Accommodating spaces that allow people to come in and quickly address their needs is very important. These are some of the important issues driving our need to upgrade facilities,” Skitowski explained.
Oswanski explained that construction on the West Toledo branch on Sylvania Avenue is being completed and is being prepared to return to service. The Tudor style building was originally built in 1930 and was last updated in 2002. The current project has taken about a year to complete and cost $3.3 million. The construction project has returned the building to its original 1930s architecture. 2,100 square feet have been added taking the building up to 19,900 square feet.
A highlight of the project is the expansion of space for a children’s area. Creativity has been employed and one example includes four large trees in this children’s space that have faces and symbols to attract kids. The project has also created additional rooms where small groups can meet, video and music production can be done, and other collaborative efforts can take place. An elevator has been installed providing access to the basement where two reconstructed meeting rooms and an auditorium are located.
An important element of the project is a significant increase in computer technology and other digital capabilities.
Construction on the Oregon branch east of Toledo has already begun. The branch is closed and a temporary location has been established. The former Wynn Elementary School building is being used to provide service to patrons during the construction period.
The project will expand the current facility on Dustin Road from 15,000 square feet to 18,700 square feet. An estimated $3.5 million is being spent on the project under way. Approximately $2.9 million is for construction and $900,000 is for furniture and equipment and miscellaneous construction costs. Completion is expected next summer in 2015.
New technology in the form of additional computers is being added during renovations. Additional meeting space and space for collaboration is also being provided with the renovation project. Larger areas are also being put in place for teens and children.
Another large project involves the construction of a new branch location in Sylvania on King Road. The new structure will be 15,000 to 20,000 square feet in size. The current time frame is for all design work to be completed and the project put out to bid by spring of 2015. An estimated date for completion of this construction would be the spring of 2016. The current estimate is that the new King Road branch location would cost $5 to $6 million.
“This new branch will have all of the expanded computer technology capabilities that we are putting into other branch locations. An emphasis will also be put on space for collaboration of small groups that will include meeting rooms and other spaces for patron use,” explained Oswanski.
The planned Sylvania King Road location will provide Sylvania residents with a second library branch in their community. The current branch on Monroe Street is also planned for a major renovation project. “The Sylvania location is the highest-use branch in our system. We do not want to close it for construction and leave Sylvania residents without a library option. We are planning to first complete construction of the new King Road branch location and when this is complete and open for use, we will then close the Monroe Street facility to begin the construction process,” stated Oswanski.
The current Monroe Street facility was built in 1958. It did undergo a restoration in 1989. This was followed by an upgrade project that was completed in 1998. The branch is 18,500 square feet. “There is not much land available to expand this branch. We do plan to change the current entrance and with other modifications will add about 1,500 square feet during the project. This will increase the size to about 20,000 square feet,” explained Oswanski.
Plans for the restoration include a significant increase in computer technology for the branch. This project will include roof replacement, mechanical systems, and significant changes to the floor plan.
The renovation of the Sylvania Branch is estimated to cost $3.4 million. A rough start date, at the present time, is the spring of 2016 following completion of the new King Road location.
Another branch that will be reconstructed is the Mott Branch located on Dorr Street near downtown Toledo. The Library will construct a new facility across the street from the current branch. It will be located on land in Toledo’s Smith Park next to the newly constructed Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.
The City of Toledo is donating the land for the new library in exchange for the old facility that it plans to lease. The new branch will be larger in size at 15,000 square feet. The current branch has slightly over 10,000 square feet. It was originally built in 1972 and was renovated in 1997.
The new facility will significantly expand the space for computers and other digital technology. Additional parking space will also be provided. The estimated cost for the project is $5 to 6 million. The current timing is that this project will follow the two Sylvania branch projects and possibly begin sometime in 2016.