Architect to discuss preliminary plans for Irvin L. Young Memorial Library expansion

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Andrea Anderson
Sunday, August 3, 2014

WHITEWATER—Cramped space, evolving technology and more programs are among the reasons  Whitewater wants to renovate and expand the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library.

Since the early 1990s the library board and staff and city officials have been talking about expanding the library, 431 W. Center St., to meet 21st century demands.

In 2008, the library created original plans to create a two-story expansion. Before fundraising could be done, the recession hit and the plans were put on hold.  Fast-forward to January 2012 when the library revisited the plans and realized they were already outdated, Stacey Lunsford, library director, said.

Now, the library's architect Rick McCarthy, of StudioGC LibraryVision in Chicago, has created a master plan tying in social trends, new technology and customer demand.

He will share the plans with the public Monday at the library. After the meeting, McCarthy will create conceptual designs and provide the library with a cost factor.

In summer 2013, the library conducted focus groups with community members to see what they wanted in a library. Anne Hartwick, library board president, says preliminary plans represent resident's wants and needs.

“Our vision for the library is to design it for the 21st century in terms of building a space for people to be able to consume, connect and create,” Hartwick said.

It's not that the building is old, it's that it's cramped and doesn't meet the communities needs, said Jim Winship, city council member.

The expansion would nearly double the library's space, bringing it to about 29,000 or 30,000 square feet, she said. It would create more reading, relaxation and meeting space.

Preliminary plans call for a one-story addition with a basement to the east of the library. Property was purchased in 1996 and 2007 for the potential expansion.

In the added building would be a children's area, tutor and conference rooms and other meeting space.

The original 14,900 square-foot building built in 1991 will undergo some adjustments to become flexible for other future changes. Areas will be shifted and plenty of movable furniture and electrical outlets will be added.

"It's a really exciting conceptual plan," Winship said. "I think that it fits not only the needs but the emerging needs of the community," he added later.

The library has 7,251 cardholders that live within the city limits, Lunsford said. Whitewater's population is 14,732, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Lunsford stresses the plans are preliminary and subject to change. The project will be funded by the city. Fundraising will also be completed by the library. The goal is to have the library expansion and renovation completed in 2018.

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