Justine Keeler, 78, browses the collection at the Sylvania Branch library. The branch, which was built in the 1950s, was expanded in 1989, but has not undergone any sort of major change to its layout since.
For 25 years, the Sylvania Branch Library has not significantly updated its layout, even though reading habits have changed. Now it’s about to overhaul its 18,500-square-foot space to accommodate the digital age and the thousands of users who make it one of the most popular branches in the Toledo-Lucas County Library System.
“There really is not a space for the tiny tot,” Clyde Scoles, library system executive director, said as he walked around the branch that receives about 900 visitors a day.
The library, built in the 1950s, underwent an expansion in 1989 but has not had any major updates to its layout, furniture, or fixtures since, he said.
Mr. Scoles, along with branch manager Susan Schafer and assistant manager Will Harbauer, have many ideas on updates and expansion. But they would like public input. “It’s their library,” Mr. Scoles said.
Residents are invited to an open planning session, Renew, Upgrade, Refresh!, at 6 p.m. Thursday, 6749 Monroe St. Residents are encouraged to come ready to offer ideas on improvements. If weather does not permit the meeting, it will be pushed back to Feb. 13. Among those planning to attend are Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough on behalf of Stough and Stough Architects, as well as a design consultant from Cleveland-based HBM Architects.
About $2.5 million to $3 million of state public library funds are earmarked for the project.
Major changes to the front of the library and maintenance room, where the HVAC system is stored, would add space to the floor plan for a technology bar, lounge area, and widening of the children and teen section.
“The front doors are very difficult for someone with a wheelchair to access,” Mr. Harbauer said. Plans to extend the vestibule could add 1,500 square feet to the building. That space may be used to enlarge the meeting room, where children's programs and educational lessons are held, from a 100-person capacity to 150, Mr. Scoles said.
Moving the HVAC system from its back-room location to the roof would free up 250 square feet.
Mr. Harbauer said people often use the library for work, and patrons would benefit from a “tech bar” where plug-ins would be available.
Wooden tables would be replaced with tech-friendly desks with outlets. Mr. Scoles envisioned the private study rooms would be enlarged and moved from the north side of the building to the south side, opening up views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
For Ms. Schafer, her dream is to have an area just for teens. The three-shelves section is in a corner, with no apparent division between the adjoining children’s area. “It doesn’t really stand out. I would like a more comfortable space. Teens need their own space. We need something that would be inviting to them,” she said.
Lighting would be improved and a communal reading area with comfortable lounge chairs would be added, officials said.
The aim is to have an architectural plan by summer, Mr. Scoles said. The overhaul would require the library operating out of a temporary location.