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WRITING A NEW STORY
Maplewood Library Expansion
Writing a New Story
The Maplewood Memorial Library is the heart of our community. During the course of any given day, over 900 children, seniors, teens and adults from all walks of life, partake in the Library’s numerous resources. Offering books, magazines, movies, computers, art and music events, technology, career and college workshops, and children’s services, the Library is a vibrant and critical cornerstone of our town.
Over the last 60 years, library materials, programs and services have expanded and overall usage has increased dramatically. Today, 19,307 Maplewood residents possess a library card, 50% more than in 1960, and 100 new library cards are issued each month. The Library now holds 130,000 items, compared to 68,000 items in 1960. New technology has brought the Library into the twenty-first century, but it has also usurped valuable space. Reading areas, originally designed as open places, now house computers and workstations with little room remaining for group and quiet study. Physical space has also been diminished by the increased number of book shelves. Workspaces for staff and technology infrastructure, such as servers and data racks, have impinged upon other areas originally planned for the public. Electrical and data infrastructure can no longer support the current demands of increasing computer usage and Wi-Fi logins. With asbestos in the dropped ceilings and cement floors, any needed updates are limited without costly abatement.
Also important, the basement gathering space (Memorial Hall) hosting 20-40 monthly programs, has water infiltration and flooding issues making it less than ideal as our community center. There is also no appropriate space to showcase our local history collections. While the Library and its professional staff embrace the needs and requests of its 21st Century patrons, the building can no longer meet those needs. The world has changed dramatically since the Main and Hilton Branch libraries were built in the 1950s and renovated in the 60’s. It is clearly time to renew our library.
Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Solutions
To address the facility and infrastructure needs of our main library, Library leadership has created a Strategic Plan and a Master Building Plan. Following a thorough interview, proposal and selection process, Sage and Coombe Architects, was retained to guide the process of enhancing our facilities. Today, thanks to input from Library staff, volunteer leadership, community leaders and civic organizations, local businesses and residents, the Library will be transformed into a LEED certified building with multiple community, group and individual venues and a design flexible enough to address all of our current technological needs and even those we cannot yet anticipate. It will be a building that encourages both quiet study and interaction, life-long learning and innovation while offering something for every member of our community.
Each component of this plan is designed to respond to the variety of needs and expectations of our residents. And each component ensures that what we invest today will benefit all who enter our doors for decades to come.
The plan includes:
A multi-purpose Community Room moved from the basement to the first floor. A separate entrance will provide access for events after library hours.
A completely renovated and enhanced Children’s Room adding a sorely needed room for children’s programming.
A dedicated Teen Area to accommodate collaborative work and a Makerspace for learning and experimenting with new technologies.
An increased number of Meeting Rooms to accommodate business meetings, collaborative projects and tutoring needs.
Adult Areas—dedicated quiet spaces transformed by the infusion of natural light, views of the park, and an outdoor reading terrace.
A dedicated Local History room to house the collection of historical Maplewood documents and materials.
LEED certified improvements including rooftop solar panels will provide an environmentally friendly building and operational efficiencies.
New access and orientation to and from the Olmsted-designed Park. Windows, a second floor and design reorientation will provide natural light and views of the park.
Improved ADA approved access achieved through leveling the grade of the entryway, minimizing ramps and improving the ease of elevator access.
New ceilings and floors will allow for upgraded electrical systems and ease of repair and upgrades in the future.
Complete asbestos abatement and waterproofing of basement will ensure that our building remains a safe haven from storms in the future.
The interior renovation will allow for flexible space throughout to accommodate future change. Movable bookcases will ensure flexibility and soundproofing in key areas will provide a balance of quiet and interaction. The LEED certification and sustainable nature of this building will serve as an example of green architecture for the community. Universal accessibility is a priority as our library is a space for all. And as a resilient structure with natural light and generators, the building will support our community in time of crisis as well as in times of celebration.
For all of our stakeholders – children, teens, adults, seniors, organizations and businesses – we remain firm in our commitment to provide state of the art technology, maintain our ever growing book collection and offer adequate space to conduct meetings and community events, and to address the growing need for lifelong learning and business development.
Financing the Plan
Library leadership is working closely with Maplewood Township to solidify a public/private funding partnership to help underwrite the $22.5 million project. Additionally, the State of New Jersey has authorized the issuance of $125 million of general obligation bonds to finance capital projects in public libraries. A dollar for dollar match positions our Library to potentially secure up to an additional 50% of the total cost of the project from the State. Finally, under the leadership of Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation, following a Feasibility Study, the Library seeks to secure an initial $1 million towards an ultimate goal of $3 million in private philanthropic support.
The Library Board of Trustees, The Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library along with the Township Committee agree that NOW is the time to bring our 20th century library into the 21st century.
As good stewards of our library and community (those who came before us and for those who rely on the library as an educational and social destination), it is our obligation to bring the facilities to where they must be in order to meet the needs of those who reside and work in Maplewood. We now invite our residents and businesses to consider being a part of the next chapter in the library’s history.
The expansion and renovation of our Main Library allows us to remain abiding curators of our growing collection, unwavering supporters of information and ideas, and responsible guardians addressing and serving the community. We have been the heart of this community for more than 100 years. We are proud of our story and accomplishments. With your help, we look forward.