Baldwin Library's Early Renovation Plans Get the OK from City Officials
Library officials can now start looking for an architect to create conceptual drawings of what the Baldwin Public Library of the future will look like.
Are you excited about a renovated Baldwin Public Library? Well, you have a little more time to wait but on Monday, the library received the green light to move on to the next step of their renovation plans.
Earlier this week, the Birmingham City Commission approved the library's "Building Program," a document that outlines what Baldwin Public Library will hopefully look like in a few years, as well as how it will be used.
Commissioners also gave Baldwin the go ahead to look for an architect to create conceptual drawings and determine cost estimates for the renovation project.
"In the saga of the library building, we've come a long way," Baldwin Director Doug Koschik said, "and we have a long way to go."
Koschik said Monday that if everything goes according to plan, the library won't be returning to the city commission with a final renovation plan until the end of the year.
This is only one step in a long process for Baldwin Public Library. The last comprehensive renovation of Baldwin happened 30 years ago.
Last spring, Baldwin worked with the city to form a joint committee charged with investigating renovation plans and soliciting feedback from the communities Baldwin serves, including Birmingham, Beverly Hills and Bloomfield Hills.
Last summer, the library collected this feedback via a community survey and held several focus groups, eventually resulting in the Building Program first approved by the joint committee on Dec. 4 and then the Library Board on Feb. 18.
Next up, Koschik said the RFP will go out in March and the library will receive bids in April and choose an architect in May. At the end of the year, after several months set aside for review, the city and library will decide whether to move forward and actually renovate.
5 things to know about Baldwin's Building Program
So what is the Building Program? According to Koschik, the report not only details specific recommendations for the renovation project, but also speaks to how Baldwin will be use in coming years. Here's five things you need to know:
- The plan is divided into "needs" and "wants". Needs include expanding the building, particularly the youth and children's section. Wants include adding a cafe area with vending machines and creating a "bookstore" space for the Friends of the Baldwin Public Library to sell used books year-round.
- More space either way. At the very least, the Building Program recommends adding almost 9,000 square feet to the library. An additional 4,000 square feet is included under the "wants" section.
- More space for kids and teens. Baldwin's Youth Department would see the biggest expansion, growing from 4,420 to 7,583 square feet. The teen section is expected to double.
- Changing how the library works. According to Koschik, the most recent addition to the library has made the building more confusing and did not anticipate the rise of technology. This renovation would include changing the lighting, layout, acoustics and how people come and go. Computers would be consolidated in a new "Information Commons."
- Preserving Baldwin's historic legacy: While survey results showed many residents aren't fans of Baldwin's new spaces, they love the 1927-era Grand Hall, Koschik said. A renovation project would protect this space.