The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees heard preliminary details Tuesday night of a new expansion plan to add on a new children’s library connected to the existing building. The board voted in August to move forward with the plan, despite community objection and disapproval.
Louisville-based 5253 Design Group Head Architect Chris Cottingim presented the schematics of the new plan, originally known as the “5253 Kennedy Option #2.”
“This was a part of the directive: let’s look at the children’s library, but let’s connect it to the existing library. And I said ‘that’s fine.’ But it’s not as easy as just sliding a piece down next to the existing library,” Cottingim said. “We’ve gone a little further to actually make the program work. Which, I’m surprised, it did.”
The connected children’s library plan expands the library by 16,575 square feet to a total 28,622 square feet, the majority of that expansion dedicated to children’s activity areas and children’s book stacks. The new plan has the same square footage as the previously proposed "Essential Plus" plan. The new expansion plan and the “Essential Plus” plan also each have a similar estimated $6.4 million budget.
The plan connects the children’s library and the current building with a middle throughway including a circulation desk. A second entrance is added to the children’s library, with a road circling to the entrance. Cottingim said the plan expands parking spaces and includes parking for library staff in the back, but he can’t provide a specific number of parking spaces because the plan is still preliminary.
Cottingim said much of the children’s library will have open space so that the area can be used for other purposes, such as community events and gatherings. The expansion also includes a computer lab with folding walls to add extra privacy depending on the situation.
“We don’t want to try and design and build ourselves into a box here. We want to keep the space as open a flexible as possible,” Cottingim said. “We’re going to use some glass, folding partitions and create a little ‘fish bowl’ for a lab...that can control sound and teach a class in there.”
The existing building won’t be expanded, but instead will have space converted into two study rooms and a quiet reading room. The bathrooms in the existing building would be upgraded, but the front appearance of the decades-old building would not be altered.
“We’re not doing any work to the front of the building.” Cottingim said. “This is something the board has to ask itself. Do we want to leave that aesthetic? If I’m going to spend five or six million dollars, I’d personally like to get a little facelift.”
Cottingim said a facade could be constructed in front of the existing building entrance to enhance the library’s look. Board Secretary Mark Kennedy said the library could look at making a facade “down the road” but that it wasn’t a priority compared to other planned construction.
“It’s not like it’s Art Deco from the 1930s. It doesn’t look bad from the outside. That’s just my humble opinion,” Kennedy said.
In response to a question by Kennedy, Cottongim said the plan would take two years to complete construction, including finishing the design and completing the permitting process.
Trustee Nominations Forwarded
The board in a closed session also selected two trustee nominations to forward to Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes, who will choose a nomination to fill the open trustee position left when former Board President Audrey Neal resigned. Out of 14 applications submitted, the two nominees are Maeve McCarthy and Deborah Jones Bell.
Imes directed the board in late August to restart the board appointment progress when Trustee Joe Walker withdrew his name from consideration for Neal's former position, citing health issues.
Walker’s past term as a trustee expired on August 15, but is still serving on the board. Kennedy in his reasoning for why Walker was still serving on the board cited paragraph three of the Calloway County Public Library Bylaws, that states “a trustee shall hold office until their predecessor has been appointed and qualified.” The board is accepting applications to replace his position.
Kennedy said the board plans to screen applicants in a special called meeting before the regularly scheduled meeting on October 8. Three to five candidates will be interviewed during October’s regular meeting, with two nominations submitted to Judge-Executive Imes for consideration.
The board also moved to change its bylaws to have trustee candidates be interviewed by the board before the board votes on which nominations to forward to Judge-Executive Imes. Kennedy said he feels interviews will let them better know trustee candidates and pointed to page 27 of the Kentucky Public Library Trustee Manual to support his reasoning for the change. The page, discussing recruitment methods for new trustees, states an interview “may also be a part of the recruitment process”.