By Rick Hinton
A public meeting for a new West Perry Township Library Branch was held April 11 – just a mile away from where the building will be erected at the corner of Southport Road and Harding Street. Attendance was down from the first meeting, however it was a small, enthusiastic crowd that gathered in the Meridian Woods Clubhouse that evening.
Schmidt Associates and HBM Architects have partnered to construct a brick-and-mortar building to serve residents on the expanding Southside. As with the initial meeting last month, they were after input. Lisa Gomperts, with Schmidt Associates, reviewed highlights from the previous gathering. A lot of information centered toward the physical building.
“We used this information to develop the aesthetics of the building,” she said. “And we introduced different trends of a library. Most were in agreement. In terms of the entry experience, people really liked the carpet, the display shelving that created a pathway through the library, bright natural light windows, a 24-7 vestibule where you could pick up your books.
“The thing about libraries is there’s something for everybody.”
The last meeting covered suggestions for seating and cafes; a fireplace being a popular option; creating nooks for people to hang out; lower shelving creating visibility across the library; a dedicated children’s area; study nook/teen area that would make them feel comfortable with that space; outdoor shading and courtyard space; and most popular, a drive-up book return.
“The point in designing your library is to have new spaces that relates to everyone, where everyone can find their space in it,” said Kevin Kennedy of HBM Architects.
Then came the table exercises – The World Cafe – to get further input on services to be offered. In 10-minute increments, participants moved to various tables, labeled 1 through 6, to answer a variety of inquiries, such as: “What should you see when you first walk into the library?” or “What have you seen in other places (not necessarily libraries) that would be nice to include in this library?” or the infamous question from Table 6 – “What new programs, services and technologies would you like to have at the new West Perry Branch?”, among many other questions. “Number 6 may be the shortest question,” Kennedy said with a smile. “But the hardest to answer.”
Some concerns were voiced (the building not being accessible from Southport Road, and the incoming on/off ramps for nearby I-69 causing future traffic woes) however, they are sure to be addressed.
Construction will start in the spring of 2020 with the opening in 2021. The next meeting will be toward the end of the summer, with the presentation of the architectural design of the building. And I’m sure, services that have been taken into consideration.