Holley presented results from a feasibility study and anticipated features for the upcoming library at a City Council summer work session June 27. She said the Beal Building ended up being the least expensive option to constructing a new library or expanding the existing City Hall location.
After studying and traveling to see current library trends, Holley said the new library will fill a shortage of study spaces that is seen in the current library and in libraries across the country as well.
“How we choose to learn effectively has changed,” Holley said. “The library wants to take full advantage of that.”
The Beal Building formerly held a rocket factory, which she said will provide big, wide-open spaces for future library guests. There will be spaces designated for young children, teens and adults.
The “super-Walmart-sized space” will have two floors. The second will serve as a 46,000-square-foot mezzanine with quiet spaces and rentable conference rooms that can be booked after library hours. Holley said a full-sized model of a Tyrannosaurus rex may act as the focal point to the children’s space.
Additionally, the new library may have stadium-style seating and a platform on the first floor for performers and speakers, Holley said. The Beal Building’s wide space may also be used for large community events.
As more features are ironed out, Holley said figuring out the library’s place in the city’s future development has presented difficulty.
“One of our challenges has been how do we make sure the library integrates within the concepts for Grand Park, the museums and being a culture and leisure district for the city,” Holley said.
In the current space, Holley said there are moments when no seats are available. The new library will alleviate this issue as well as prepare for future growth, she said.
“We’re about exactly half the size we should be for the population we have now,” Holley said. “It will be wonderful to stretch out a little.”
The passport office, book store and drive-up service will continue into the new library.
The library could be in the Beal Building by late 2022, Holley said.
“And it is an aggressive timeline,” Holley said. “I can’t say that enough.”