SUNBURY —The Community Library has presented plans to possibly expand and is seeking feedback from patrons and residents in the Big Walnut area.
The library, at 44 Burrer Dr., recently held open houses to explain the plans. Those who attended were asked to fill out a survey to get their thoughts. A library trustee told The Gazette nothing has been determined, and the survey was to get a sense of what the community wanted and whether to proceed with expansion.
Signage in the library told the story for thinking about growth in the form of a master facility plan. A population chart showed the growth of the service area, with 19,092 people in 2010; 24,708 people in 2020 (an increase of 27%); 32,744 people in 2030 (up 32.5%); and 39,867 in 2040 (an increase of 21%).
Citing its own statistics, the use of collections continues to grow an average of 5% over the last five years; with an average 13.9% annual growth in program participation over the past three years (prior to COVID-19).
In a comparison of peer libraries of similar size, the Community Library said it is “doing more with less.” It “has a higher circulation rate of collection materials” (2.28 annual physical circulation for each item held); it “has a lower building area square feet per capita (0.86) than all but three peer libraries”; and “given the current service area population, Community Library is currently below the mean square feet per capita (1.23) of its peer libraries.”
According to focus groups conducted earlier this year, the Community Library received three messages from area residents:
• “It is important for the Library to continue to be a gathering place for the community.”
• “Additional parking is needed — particularly during peak use and program hours.”
• “There is a desire for outdoor program spaces and connection with nature.”
Other areas of growth the focus groups requested were a large community room, youth program room, more study/collaboration rooms, dedicated teen/tween space, more lounge seating, youth early literacy and play area, parent/child seating, and a family technology area.
A potential expansion would add 7,500 square feet to the existing 15,360-square-foot building and 38 more parking spaces to the 55 existing parking spaces. The additions would include larger and more defined sections, additional family restrooms, expanded local history, an outdoor covered program space, a west entrance, and an outdoor patio.
An aerial view of the expansion shows it would take place mainly to the west and south of the present site. Expansion costs are projected to be $6-7 million (by today’s prices), with more than 61% going towards building construction.
For more information, visit www.yourcl.org.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.