I am eager to share with you two exciting developments regarding the new library at 520 Virginia Drive. First, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an architectural contract with GKO Architects (Ambler, PA) at their August 14 meeting. The contract enables us to fully develop the Library design and puts construction on track for 2019.
Then, just last week, we were honored to learn that Upper Dublin Township was awarded a $750,000 Keystone grant; Upper Dublin was one of just four municipalities in Pennsylvania to receive the maximum amount awarded. Keystone grants are competitive grants funded through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund. They pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs to plan, acquire, construct, or rehabilitate public library facilities. Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera announced that 27 public libraries in 18 counties have been awarded $6.8 million.
Thanks go to many for this award, including the Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners; all the hardworking members of the design team; library and township staff; Library and Friends Boards; and all four of our local legislators: Senator Vincent Hughes and Representatives Madeleine Dean, Thomas Murt and Todd Stephens, all of whom recognized the innovation behind this new library building and demonstrated their united support for this grant application.
In line with the Keystone grant priorities, the awarded funds will be used to improve the new building’s accessibility and sustainability standards. Plans include the installation of a new, appropriately-sized elevator, automatic entry doors, upgraded restrooms, LED lighting, accessible sinks, water fountains, cabinetry, ramps, and signage. The building’s high-end, robust mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be updated for better energy efficiency.
The design team is now hard at work “demonstrably improve[ing] library service to the general public”, another of the Keystone grant priorities. Transforming this former corporate office building into a beautiful, modern library for everyone to enjoy is not so difficult when there are so many existing assets, such as open floor space for stacks and seating, an inviting lobby, natural lighting, and plenty of offices easily converted to public meeting spaces. The existing 300-seat auditorium, café, and extensive parking are added bonuses.
In addition to the existing 2-story lobby with skylights, auditorium and café on the first floor, the staff will immediately welcome and assist you from UDPL Express, a convenient quick service and holds pick up location. The enlarged Children’s Library is being designed with zones for our various audiences–school age children, preschoolers and babies. The Library’s Collections Management/Technical Services departments, where books and other materials will be delivered, processed, and sorted for holds and shelving, will also be located on the first floor.
The second-floor plan identifies optimal regions to engage, collaborate, and build skills in a variety of ways. There is a Creative Suite, which includes an enhanced UDPL STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math)/Maker Lab, a computer lab, business center, and flexible work space. The Learning Commons, inspired by collegiate libraries, will provide spaces for small group collaboration and study. Other areas include the Great Hall with the welcome desk and new book browsing area, various reading and seating areas as well as a wing dedicated to housing popular book collections and designated areas for quiet reading and working independently. Nine small meeting rooms, two conference rooms and a classroom, all available for public use, round out the upper level.
I look forward to keeping you up to date on our progress. Until then, here are some of the architect’s initial renderings to inspire your imagination.