The Buckhead Branch Library is set to receive an extensive $2.7 million renovation that officials estimate will be completed by the end of 2019.
The basic ideas proposed by officials included a more flexible space, aesthetic improvements and system upgrades. Those ideas received support from the around 25 residents that attended a March 14 open house held at the library.
The library would have to be closed for some time during 2019 while work is done, but officials aren’t yet sure how long that will be.
Representatives from McAfee3 Architects and Evergreen Construction, who will design and construct the renovations were on hand at that meeting to gather input from residents. Those representatives will then use the input when making the designs and present those designs at a meeting later this year.
“We’re going to do our best to make this a very beautiful library that you’ll be happy to spend time in,” said Cheryl McAfee, the CEO of McAfee3 Architects.
The Buckhead Library is among 22 libraries getting renovations in this phase the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System’s capital improvement program approved in 2008.
The program budgeted $108 million to renovate 22 existing libraries, which have been separated into groups of five or six libraries that will get upgrades at different times, said Al Collins, the administrator of the county’s bond program.
This group also includes Buckhead’s other branch, the Northside Library, which will have its own community meeting at the library, which is located at 3295 Northside Parkway NW, March 20 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Around $12.4 million has been allocated for this group of libraries, and Buckhead is planned to get $2.7 million of that.
“Our task is to design to a budget. We cannot exceed that budget. [The county has] made that abundantly clear. Taxpayers dollars must be respected,” said Jay Lawton, the general manager of McAfee3 Architects.
Those funds will be used for wide range of fixes the county already wants to complete, as well as on ideas submitted by residents.
Some ideas on the county’s list included:
- remodel bathrooms to make them more modern and ADA compliant
- repaint all interior walls and install new carpeting
- replace all furniture used by staff and patrons
- upgrade technology systems, including computers, WiFi and security gates
- fill cracks and restripe the parking lot
- add new exterior and interior lighting
- update and repair canopy that leads to the entryway
- upgrade heating and cooling system
- install new fire alarm system
The county also wants to install a digital “bulletin board” that would display announcements and events and replace a traditional bulletin board that is currently in the lobby.
An option to self-checkout books was also presented by officials.
Those ideas were mostly supported by residents, but some took issue with replacing all furniture because they said some is still in good condition.
However, new furniture could be more flexible and easier to move, including by using bookshelves that are on wheels, officials said.
Problems with lighting were frequently raised by residents, who said it is too dim throughout most of the library, especially in the only conference room.
“When you get to a certain age, you can’t see without good light,” one resident said.
Residents who volunteer with arts programs at the library frequently asked for a professional hanging system to be installed to hang art around the library.
Several people suggested highlighting the “The Storyteller,” an iconic sculpture in Buckhead that was installed outside of the Buckhead Library after it was removed from its former at a park during a renovation. One resident suggested adding seating around the sculpture because children frequently stop there to read.
Other suggestions for children and teenager areas in the library included more furniture that can be more easily rearranged to accommodate storytime and projects. Residents also suggested adding four study rooms in the teen area.
For adult areas, residents said they need more meeting space, including an additional conference room.
There is a massive glass wall at the back of the library that residents said needs addressing. The heat during the summer and bright light from sun deters people from sitting in the back, residents said.
Josh Taylor, a library Board of Trustees member, suggested adding more space in the entrance to library to showcase new books or special collections.
“The librarians are capable of doing that, but they need the space to do it,” Taylor said.
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