Library Board Unveils Plans for a Major Overhaul
- The Goods
- Published on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 17:13
- Joanne Wallenstein
There are ambitious plans afoot to renovate and expand the Scarsdale Library to meet the needs of the community now and in the future. Library Director Elizabeth Bermel reports that the library is heavily used by all segments of the community. The library's vibrant children's program is well-attended by toddlers and caregivers; teens come to do homework, study and work on group projects; it's a frequent workplace for those who don't have offices, community groups use it as a meeting place and everyone enjoys speakers, movies and even concerts. However, the outdated facility can barely accommodate all who wish to meet there.
After years of research, focus groups, visits to neighboring libraries, surveys and studies, the Board of the Library has now solidified their recommendations to update the library to incorporate new technologies, provide flexible multi-function work and meeting spaces and bring the current building up to code. According to Bermel, the goal is to "transform the outdated building to meet future needs."
At a meeting with the Scarsdale Board of Trustees on Monday night October 26, representatives from the Library Board and their architects and advisors updated the trustees on the steps they have taken to define their needs, and formulate plans for the library of the future.
Library Board President Terri Simon said that the library is "tired and inadequate," and falls short of "what our community has come to expect." She explained that in 2012 the board adopted a five-year plan to strengthen the role of the library in the community with expanded programming for children, teens and adults. They sought to "improve the experience with a comforting, welcoming space." Representatives from the library board toured other libraries to see how the building could be renovated and retained Lathrop Associates to do a conceptual master plan.
Preliminary estimates show that it will take $18.5 million to realize their plans. This funding will be secured through a public-private partnership in which the Village funds a portion and the rest is underwritten by private donations. The Board retained Plan A advisors to provide them with a fundraising feasibility study and then appointed a campaign committee which is headed by former Scarsdale Mayor Robert Steves, Betty Pforzheimer and Dara Gruenberg. They are currently working to secure donations from local residents.
In 2015, the Library Board hired Dattner Architects to develop schematic plans for the new library, which according to Simon, "Strike a balance between what we love about the existing library and transforming it into a building we can use in the years to come."
Daniel Heuberger of Dattner Architects explained that the new library would be forward-thinking, meet programmatic goals, be flexible and accessible, integrate technology and the environment and fit into the historical context of Scarsdale.
Plans for the new library include a glass entry with a café and public assembly space that can be used during the day and at night, even when the library is closed. In order to open up the library, the mezzanine level of the main reading room will be removed transforming it into a "lofty and light-filled" space. A windowed wraparound gallery will be added to bring in light, provide more seating and integrate the library with the grounds outside. The gallery will also have sliding doors to enable visitors to access outdoor tables when the weather allows.
Staff offices will be consolidated into one location on the lower level, which should improve effectiveness and efficiency. An outdoor amphitheater, also accessible from the lower level, will provide space for performances and presentations.
The Scott Room will be reconfigured so that the space is flexible and can be broken up into smaller spaces, depending on programming needs. Two smaller conference rooms will also be added for community use as well as smaller meeting spaces throughout the library. Meeting spaces will include networked flat screens to allow participants to collaborate and communicate.
What else? The library will feature a "green roof" that is planted and will cool the building, retain water and slowly release it.
Summing up, Heuberger said, "The new library will be cutting edge and extend the range of people who will be interested in coming. It will be a better place to be."
Due to the extent of the project, it is expected that the library would need to be closed during the renovations for 12-18 months. It has been suggested that a temporary library would be set up at the Village-owned facility at Supply Field.
Realizing these plans will require significant contributions from residents. The Scarsdale Village Board initially indicated that they would kick in $4.5 million, but that number is still to be determined. At the suggestion of Bob Steves, a working group with representatives from the Library Board and the Village Board will be convened to examine the plans and the options for financing the work.
A reception to unveil the plans and launch the campaign to the community will be held at the library on December 3rd. Details to follow.