LIBERTY — Eager to revolutionize the style of libraries in the Northland, Mid-Continent Public Library Director and Chief Executive Officer Steve Potter has been strategic in choosing elements of design and new furnishings.
The new Liberty branch library will be about 18,000 square feet, around 1,000 square feet larger than the current building at 1000 Kent St. Construction is slated to begin at the end of the year.
During construction, budgeted at $6.4 million and paid for with voter-approved Proposition L funding, the Kent Street location will remain open.
Potter said once dirt begins moving, the project — on six acres on the east side of Withers Road near the Liberty Community Center — should take about a year, with construction slated to end around late 2020.
“With this project, I told our designers I wanted to bring the inside out and the outside in,” Potter said during an unveiling event this spring hosted at the current Liberty library. “We want to have natural features inside, but we also want people to be able to enjoy the outside through covered seating.”
Potter said outside furniture will accent broad windows, allowing substantial natural light into the building, in addition to natural color schemes and a moss wall featured above the center hearth.
A moss wall is a natural addition made from nonliving moss sourced from the United States in North and South Carolina, and Florida. Pillow moss is hypoallergenic and improves air quality. The only maintenance required is regular aerosol dusting.
Other features of the new library will include visible greenery areas from a larger children’s library, three computers in the same area and six adult desktops through the rest of the library. Laptops and tablets will be available for use in addition to a variety of electronic-friendly spaces.
Library staff said having transportable electronics is more flexible for visitors as they can work where it’s most comfortable.
In an effort to make the children’s area more interactive, one wall will be a board with different sized pegs children can place and remove, architect Jim Stufflebeam said. Another unique feature is the area’s acoustic cloud-lined ceiling, providing for optimal sound manipulation.
More features include a teen area, small meeting spaces and a large group space for events, presentations and community use.
For convenience, the library will have a drive-thru window for pick-up and drop-off. Staff has been working with the city to have a designated crosswalk either at the intersection of Blackberry and Withers Road or in the middle of the block of Blackberry and Homestead, where the library will sit across the street from Liberty Academy. Optimistic, the library group is also working with the Liberty Parks Department to create a walking trail on the land and possible parklike features in the future.
Guests of the unveiling were invited to view renderings, do a virtual reality tour, and ask staff and architects questions about the project.
The library will have all LED lighting, high-efficiency mechanical systems, dual flow water, low-flow toilet fixtures and water bottle-filling fountain installations.
“We are creating a better space,” Community Relations and Planning Director Jim Staley said. “One that people want to spend time in.”