Library Board Approves Moving Forward with New West Library at Current Mahoning Avenue Site

YOUNGSTOWN (August 6, 2015) – The Board of Trustees of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County took steps to begin a new project to replace the West Library with a new library building in the current site at 2815 Mahoning Avenue in a special meeting tonight at the Newport Library.

The Board unanimously approved a motion to empower the Building and Sites Committee to proceed with the qualifications-based architect selection process for a new building in the current location of the West Library on Mahoning Avenue.

The Board also approved a policy Naming and Donor Sponsorship Recognition for new library buildings.

Library Executive Director Heidi Daniel discussed with the board the problems with the current West Library building on Mahoning Avenue, including boiler and roofing problems and more. The building was had additions that are problematic. And the building does not have curb appeal.

The Library has looked at options for this building for years. The Library owns the property on Mahoning Avenue. If the building was remodeled, she felt that most of the cost would be due to HVAC and structural issues, ADA compliance, and roofing, which would not leave much money for anything else.

Ms. Daniel proposed to Trustees a brand new building on the current site on Mahoning Avenue, with a new model that houses the Pop-Up Library service and collection, as well as a public service area and features for patrons. The Pop-Up Library is an outreach service which brings materials and services out to the community where people are gathering and serves the entire county.

She suggested that this branch would have an emphasis on technology and community outreach. It would also include an ample collection of library materials.

Ms. Daniel showed the board “concept drawings” showing what she would be focusing on for public service and square footage. She noted that these are a concept and there is not currently an architect working on the project; the drawings do not represent what the building would be. The current building is 8,900 square feet. The new building could be as much as 11,900 square feet, although this is just an approximation. The cost for this proposed building project would be approximately $2.8 million, which includes demolition, construction, landscaping, architects fees and more.

“We want to add an attractive asset on Mahoning Avenue. I believe it will bring more people into that branch,” she said. “The current library does not have the fresh look and appeal that our newer branches have. A new building in that location could hopefully act as a catalyst to bring other businesses to this area.”

Mayor John McNally noted that once we have specific numbers and plans, the city would be interested in helping in whatever ways they can. He is willing to talk with Library staff and look for ways the city could assist.

The timeline would be to start construction on a new West branch as soon as possible, weather permitting, in 2016. Construction would take about a year, with the new building opening in 2017. The timeline takes into account choosing an architect, the architect preparing drawings, presenting these to the community for feedback, fine-tuning the design, the bidding process, as well as construction.

In the event that something major would need repair before we break ground, the branch would likely close until the new one is constructed. Ms. Daniel noted that the condition of the building is one of the reasons she wants to move on this project.

The Board discussed the inquiry of a major donor who would want naming rights to this building. Ms. Daniel noted that she does not know the commitment of the potential donor, but that she wanted the Library to have a policy in place in order to discuss a donation with the potential donor. Tonight, the Board approved the naming policy.

Ms. Daniel stressed that the potential donation is not driving the project. The Library operates debt-free and would not start a project without the ability to pay for the library.