The holiday season is traditionally brimming with anticipation, but those awaiting the opening of the new Liberty Branch Library may have to wait just a little longer.
Delaware County District Library officials, who are now targeting an early-2023 grand opening, are as eager as prospective patrons to see the new library’s doors open.
“It’s very exciting and something to really look forward to,” said new DCDL Director Bryan Howard, who succeeded retired director George Needham earlier this fall. “I can’t wait to see the community in the building, using the facility.”
Branch manager Shari Bowers was hired to help bring the new library online this summer. She said she anticipates opportunities she and her staff should have to engage patrons, from quiet one-on-one encounters to children’s and other group programming that is to generate conversation, learning and even laughter, she said.
“So much is going to go on in that building,” Bowers said.
Howard acknowledged the extended construction timeline, causing a delay in the branch opening originally scheduled for late this year.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that the hope is for the library to hold a grand opening in the first quarter of 2023.
Jeffrey Sackenheim – director of architecture for SHP, Columbus, and the firm’s lead architect on the Liberty Branch Library project – said he expects the building to be ready for move-in in the coming days, after which the library is to begin putting materials on shelves and furniture and other materials in place.
“Given all of the volatility in the last 20 months across the globe in the construction market, including price escalation, supply-chain issues and labor shortages, our team has done a good job navigating those hurdles,” Sackenheim said.
Bowers said she has used the delay to build some of her team in advance, hiring individuals at the management level to begin familiarizing themselves with each other and the space, and looking at programming, expected foot-traffic flow and what she called service points for cartridges.
Of course, she said, none of that can be known for sure until the library is open and residents start using it.
“Like houses, no two libraries are the same, and it’s the people inside it that make it that way,” Bowers said. “Both the staff and our patrons.”
Located at the corner of Home and Steitz roads in the Middlebury Crossing development, the new branch is to be a three-floor, 42,000-square-foot library on a 3.7-acre site. All costs associated with the construction, expected to top $14 million, are funded by the 2018 renewal of the DCDL levy.
Features include a business center, with traditional technology, such as computers and copiers; a makerspace with cutting edge technology, including 3D printers and laser cutters; and dedicated rooms for tutoring and meeting.
The space was also designed with programming for children, youth and adults in mind. The library is to blend indoor spaces with the outdoors, as well.
Many of these features, Sackenheim said, were developed following public forums to gain area residents’ input early in the design process.
“I’m extremely proud of the building, both personally and professionally,” Sackenheim said. “It’s going to be the best library (SHP has) ever done, and a great addition to that part of Delaware County.”