Public hears plans for S. Toledo's new library


Toledo-Lucas County Public Library patrons are getting a chance to look over preliminary plans for a new South branch on Broadway.

Details about the site, the building's exteriors, and the proposed floor plan were presented to the public during a meeting earlier this week.

People are eager for the project to get under way, said Charlie Oswanski, superintendent of facilities and operations for the library. The theme of the night seemed to be that the new library has been “worth the wait, but let's get going,” he said.

The project is two to three years behind schedule, mainly because of the lengthy search for a site.

Library officials are still in negotiations with McDonald's for the site at 1736 Broadway, but Mr. Oswanski said that “we're pretty comfortable on our end that it will happen.”

In December the Toledo Plan Commission approved a drive-through McDonald's restaurant design at Broadway and South Avenue to replace the franchise at 1736 Broadway.

McDonald's intends to raze that 32-year-old building and sell the property to the library system. Plans call for a building to be constructed there to replace the old and cramped branch library at 1638 Broadway.

The goal, Mr. Oswanski said, is to constuct a library with 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of space. The old building has 4,000 square feet of usable space. Of that amount, 3,000 is devoted to library space.

There is no parking lot at the library and very little street parking, Mr. Oswanski said, noting  plans a parking lot for 40 vehicles. In addition, some land for green space is planned, he said.

Features include a meeting room for 60 to 75 people and an expanded area for the Latino collections, he said. The main entry will be near Broadway.

Efforts are being made to honor the community's desire to have the building fit in with the architectural styles of surrounding structures, many of which feature brick and masonry.

Officials would like to bid the $1.3 million project in early spring, he said. Depending on the site availability, construction on the one-story building could start in early summer.

The number of registered patrons at the South branch library has increased in recent years, according to information from Chris Kozak, media relations officer for the library system. In 1999 there were 5,142 registered patrons. In 2001 the number was 5,348; the figures from 2002 aren't available yet.

The collection size at the library in 1997 was 43,514, compared with 36,594 in 2001. Mr. Oswanski said that officials plan to expand the size.

No decisions have been made on the old building. If it is no longer used as a library, the structure becomes a city building and it would be up to the city to decide what to do with it, Mr. Oswanski said.

The library system is building and renovating other branches:

  • Birmingham, addition and renovation to 203 Paine Ave.: The Collaborative, Inc., is the project architect. The project has been allocated $800,000. Staff are working with the architects on furniture, fixtures and equipment selections. A spring ground breaking is expected.

  • Lagrange-Central, new building: The Collaborative is the architect. Ground breaking for the $700,000 project is tentatively set for spring 2004 for a site at the corner of Lagrange and Manhattan. Staff and public meetings will be scheduled.

  • Waterville, renovation and addition to 800 Michigan Ave.: Buehrer Group Architecture and Engineering, Inc., of Maumee is the architect. The project has been allocated $800,000. A spring ground breaking is planned. Designs are being reviewed, and library officials are working closely with village officials to coordinate the project. The library is on village-owned land near Conrad Park, and the proposed expansion project could trim the amount of park land.

    The current building has 7,000 square feet of space. Preliminary plans call for the addition of 3,500 square feet of patron space.

    The library projects are being funded through a 10-year bond levy passed in 1995 for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system. So far, the Main Library and several branches have been renovated, expanded, and/or improved.