The interior of the West Toledo Library Branch looks ‘cluttered’ and ‘very institutional,’ a top library official says. A planned renovation will aim to transform the space into a more bookstore-type setting.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
The West Toledo branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is planning an addition and renovation to benefit patrons.
Last week, the library system hosted a community forum to discuss the 83-year-old, Tudor-style building at 1320 Sylvania Ave. The forum aimed to address concerns and get feedback from the public about the project.
Branch manager Julie Bursten said the building needs to remain sustainable. While the space contains many original details, it is also lacking in several areas, said Charlie Oswanski, the library system’s facilities and operations superintendent.
“We’re evaluating everything,” he said. A big trend nationally among libraries is to ensure patrons have enough space to plug in laptons and read in open, decorative areas, Mr. Oswanski said.
According to the West Toledo branch’s Web site, the library has 13 Internet-connected computers for the public, two minioffice computers, and a special computer for children.
But it’s looking to add more.
Another part of the plan is to add an elevator to the first story so patrons can use the basement’s large meeting room. It’s only accessible by stairs right now.
Other aspects of the building are outdated, such as the flow of the collection shelves, Mr. Oswanski said.
“It’s just cluttered and it’s tight,” he said. “Very institutional.”
Mr. Oswanski said some of the lighting is better designed for a warehouse setting, not for a library. Renovation plans include eliminating harsh lighting and lowering bookshelves. Extending the side of the building is also planned. The library is working with Buehrer Group of Maumee on the design.
Officials said they want to respect the building’s architecture.
“It’s important to us to hear what you want,” Mr. Oswanski said.
The public asked for more quiet rooms. Ms. Bursten said more space could allow the library to hold General Educational Development classes. An improved children’s area, with a focus on literacy, is something branch staff wants.
“I think this area really needs help with that,” Ms. Bursten said.
More computers, which would allow patrons to file for government aid, were also suggested.
But Mr. Oswanski said other elements must be considered.
“Technology isn’t the only way to improve services for our patrons,” he said.
Officials expect seating to be added and say care will be taken to highlight architectural elements, including two fireplaces and a decorative arch.
“People really love this building,” Mr. Oswanski said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: email@example.com, 419-724-6522 or on Twitter @KMcBlade.