Well I cannot believe that we are already half-way through February—2018 is flying right by. As many of you know, this year is when Keene Memorial Library will start the brunt of the work on the planning for the expansion project. In case you are not aware of what the expansion project is about, I thought I would run you through a brief timeline.

In 2006, the Hazel R Keene Donor Advised Fund provided the Keene Memorial Library with a grant to purchase property to the east of the library, with plans to use the property for a future library expansion. If the property is not used by 2020 for a library expansion, the property will revert to the Fund. In 2016, when I began here at the library, I discovered that we had very little time to get an expansion project approved by City Council and to start moving forward to fulfill the wishes of Hazel Keene.

The Friends of the Keene Memorial Library paid for a Space Needs Assessment report by George Lawson, LLC, to show why we needed to grow and by how much we needed to grow. As the current building opened in 1971, we are almost 50 years old. The building may look like it is in good shape, but 50 years takes a toll on the structure and internal functionality of a building. In March of 2017, we presented the Space Needs Assessment report to City Council and requested permission to move forward with an expansion project. City Council voted to move forward and the City agreed to provide the architect fees for the project.

The Library Board approved Jeff Hoffman as the chair of the expansion committee. The expansion committee selected Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture. In January, Jeff and I starting working with the architects to provide information and documents. In early February, we met with the library team from Alley Poyner Macchietto and scheduled our first feedback and communication sessions. The first meeting will be with the library staff to take input on the project. Then in early March, we will hold our first Town Hall Meeting to take community feedback. The architects will also be developing a survey for the community as well, in case folks cannot make the Town Hall Meeting.

The architects will consider the feedback and start developing rough architectural drawings. At this time, we do not have any drawings or mock ups of the expansion project. Some of the major areas we are hoping to improve are the children’s area, technology areas, community meeting spaces, study rooms, an ADA compliant elevator. If you have been in the library lately, you may have noticed the lack of division between the children’s area and the adult area. A larger community meeting space would allow for more programming, more library meetings, more community meetings, and a better overall experience.

If you are interested in providing input, please watch for meeting dates and times!

Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.