By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Oct 23, 2013, 16:33
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The outside of the new Petersburg library.
PETERSBURG -- The new library taking shape at the corner of Washington and Market streets will be so much more than books.
The new building set to open in February will have a coffee shop, dozens of computers, a store, meeting rooms and even space set aside for nonprofits to improve the lives of residents. During a tour recently of construction, officials said they hope the new library will help bring change to the city far beyond just lending books.
The inside of the new $12.7 million library has massive open areas with large windows to let in natural light to make reading easier. They will feature shades that are lowered automatically with light-sensitive switches to ease the brightness when needed.
The bottom floor will have numerous computers and a large section reserved for children. The children’s area will even have its own entrance for buses and vans to drop off kids. There will also be four early learning machines that help kids learn to read.
The library will have a large space for programs and events. Before, the events had to be held at a local church or Union Station due to lack of space. Library Director Wayne Crocker said it is important for kids to make the connection between the programs and the library itself. It will also help attract kids to the library. Once they come for an event, they can see what the library has to offer and want to come back.
A cafe will be a major new feature near the main entrance. It will serve coffee and offer pastries and other food. While the food is still not allowed in the rest of the library, drinks will be. The vendor will also do catering for events hosted at the new library.
There will also be a small store/gift shop that will sell things such as flash drives and office supplies. It will also sell Petersburg-themed items.
The major fiction and nonfiction areas will be on the second floor. There will also be a dedicated Virginia history room.
There are rooms reserved for several nonprofits with a mission to educate. The space is being offered for free to nonprofits that help adults read, offer health education and business development.
There will also be a dedicated seminar room and smaller study rooms.
The centerpiece of the new library is its rotunda, which on the outside is topped with a zinc dome and on the inside will have a mosaic by Appomattox Tile that will feature 48 iconic buildings in the city.
Library Director Wayne Crocker, Project Manager Fred White, Petersburg Library Foundation Board Chairman Bob Walker and Fund Development Officer Cheryl Collins discuss the construction.
The library will have 130 parking spaces, making access easier. Before, people were circling the block looking for parking spaces so that they could just drop off books, Crocker said.
The new building will have a drive-through window where people can drop off books or even pick up books that they have reserved.
The new building will consolidate services that been at three different locations in the city.
Two branches have already closed in anticipation of the new building opening. A study is under way to see if the old main building could be transformed into archival space.
Crocker said he hopes bringing everything under one roof will make access easier. The new library is also located half a block from Petersburg’s bus station.
The old library is 14,000 square feet, while the new one is more than triple that space at 45,000. The old library, located in what was once a large home, has presented a challenge for staff. It has air conditioning units in the windows, wires dropping down from the ceiling and little room to offer programs.
The new building was designed with technology in mind. Every room will be wired for computers.
The old building has wireless internet access, but there are dead spots due to the layout of the building. The new building will be saturated with wifi access and willeven have wifi in an outdoor area with numerous tables.
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Workers installed a zinc roof on the rotunda dome recently at the new Petersburg library.
As construction progresses, so does the fundraising. The Petersburg Library Foundation is nearing its goal of $12.7 million. Fund development officer Cheryl Collins said the foundation has raised nearly $11 million with more than 1,300 donors. A brick campaign is also under way to help raise money. The engraved bricks will go out in front of the building when complete.
For more information on the library and how to donate toward its construction, visit http://www.petersburglibraryfoundation.org.