Durham County will gather input Thursday on a planned $40 million renovation of the downtown library.
The county has been with working Vines Architecture of Raleigh since 2014 and is in the schematic, or conceptual, design phase.
Last year, officials held sessions where residents, organizations and business made suggestions, such as adding natural light and making it easier to use technology at the library.
“We’ve really reached the limit of the amount of technology that we can add with the current design, said Library Director Tammy Baggett.
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The library also needs more room for the North Carolina collection and programming. About 28,800 people attended programs last year, but if more than 150 plan to attend, the event has to be moved to another community venue.
All told, the main library had 893,187 visits in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015. People used the computers 119,798 times.
On Thursday county representatives will share information on the design so far, including a model of the proposed renovated building.
“And from there (people) can offer opinions,” Baggett said.
The proposal includes weaving a STEAM literacy center into the library’s design, which includes an entrepreneurial component. STEAM stands for science, technology engineering arts and math.
The renovation is tentatively scheduled to go on a bond referendum in November 2016. If voters approve the bond, construction would begin in late summer or early fall 2017, with a completion date of early 2019.
County officials are working to establish priorities for the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, or long-range construction plan. The library renovation has been on the list for years, said County Manager Wendell Davis.
“You can just go into the library, and you can see it is in need of attention,” said County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs, who sits on the Library Board of Trustees as the commissioner’s liaison.
The facility serves a diverse population with pre-school, children, teen and other programs. It also serves those looking for jobs and homeless people who come to read and get out of the weather.
The world has evolved, Jacobs said, and the main library needs to catch up.
“We need make it a more user-friendly space that people can use for technology,” Jacobs said.
County officials envision an innovative place, where people can not only find books, but use video and computer technology, 3-D printers and other innovation.
Another important aspect of the changes includes the role that the building and the space plays in the evolving downtown scene. Those considerations include pedestrian access, making the best use of the site and its green space, Jacobs said.
If you go
Durham County will hold a community input session for renovating the Main Library at 7 p.m. Thursday at the library, 300 N. Roxboro St. Additional public forums will be held throughout the design process. For additional information, please contact Anita Robinson at 919-560-0167.
Use numbers for the downtown library from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015
Total Visits: 893,187
Total Program Attendance: 28,880
Total Public Computer Sessions: 119,798
Source: Durham County Library