Citizens Discuss New Library

THE BUILDING at 2076 Magnolia Ave., site of last Saturday's forum, is the proposed new location for the Buena Vista Library.

THE BUILDING at 2076 Magnolia Ave., site of last Saturday's forum, is the proposed new location for the Buena Vista Library.

BV Library Staff Note Their Needs

A “Community Design Forum” at 2076 Magnolia Ave. Saturday morning heard Buena Vista citizens voice their needs for a new library space and gave project developers the opportunity to dispel rumors related to the project.

“I don’t want to do a boutique hotel [where the current library is located],” GoBV developer Ed Walker said to those in attendance Saturday. “It’s a neat thing to do, but I have no desire to do that.”

Walker’s statement follows a concerned citizen’s comments to City Council Thursday night regarding the library’s proposed move to a new location.

“I hope the library [relocation] is not a done deal,” Ada Branham said to City Council.

She questioned Walker’s rumored plans to convert the current library into a boutique hotel, noting that Modine Manufacturing contributed $75,000 to the building’s restoration and that it was her understanding that Buena Vista invested $250,000 into fixing up the building.

“Keep the A.B. Modine [Memorial] Library in the same beautiful building,” she said. “It’s small but it serves us well. The building belongs to the citizens of Buena Vista, and you shouldn’t let it go.”

The current Buena Vista public library building, the city’s historic former courthouse, has presented a number of operational challenges for staff. While the Buena Vista library branch continues to outperform other locations in the Rockbridge Regional Library System, the current location offers limited space and structural issues of lighting and accessibility, along with issues of disrepair that come with a historic property, such as water leaks. GoBV, a revitalization project for downtown Buena Vista, is seeking to address the issues of the Buena Vista library with a move to a new property.

Forum presenters Jamie Goodin, Joe Ashwin and Austin Scieszinski called the city library “the heartbeat of BV” Saturday, citing the location as a hub for the community and a multi-generational space with several functions. The 2076 Magnolia Ave. location, directly across the street from the current location, has the attractive advantage of square footage. The current library has about 1,800 square feet of usable space, whereas 2076 Magnolia Ave. offers about 6,000 square feet to utilize.

At the forum, project presenters showed the audience an “iterative plan” of a library space in the new building. A long, rectangular floor plan, the library design suggested Saturday showed an open concept of centrally located book stacks with community rooms, computer desks and quiet study rooms supplementing bordering walls.

Library staff present at the forum said a main issue with the current location is difficulty in housing their programs, particularly with children. A meeting room to accommodate noisy children’s programs that coincide with regular library operations is crucial, staff said. Stacks with wheels could also give staff the flexibility to create space with programs and events, one staffer suggested.

The issue of library lighting was also addressed by forumgoers Saturday, with many drawing attention to the current location’s large windows. Though aesthetically pleasing, natural light from large windows has wreaked havoc on library materials. In addition to this, aged lighting fixtures have left some sections of the building in the dark. Moving forward with a new library design, staff suggested mindful placement of windows at the 2076 Magnolia Ave. location, along with up-to-date lighting

Another key design component library staff iterated at the forum is the development of a community room that is accessible after library hours. In order to make the space attractive to outside entities, library staff would like to offer groups and organizations a meeting place that is accessible once the public library is locked. Those in attendance discussed the possibility of second entrance to a community room, or the creation of a vestibule from the front entrance that allows sole access to the meeting space.

Presenters Saturday assured those in attendance that with the help of the regional library board, a move would not disturb the Buena Vista library’s relationship to the system.

“It is our ambition to maintain the status quo,” Goodin, GoBV project manager, said.

The library project has secured about $180,000 in non-matching grants, meaning the city will not have to provide matching contributions for the build, Goodin reported.

As for how much the total project will cost, Goodin explained the project team can’t presently know for sure without a final design. Private donors, public events, more grants and other resources will be pursued for additional funding, he said. Historic tax credit is also being sought for the new location.

A timeline for the project is contingent on fundraising, presenters explained. Walker said the fastest construction could begin would be September, assuming they had raised appropriate funds ahead of time.

The News-Gazette

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