In February 2013, the Library Board approved the largest branch facilities plan in more than 25 years. The plan included renovating the 100-year-old Avondale Branch to be fully accessible, renovating the donated Cox House as the new Clifton Branch Library and constructing new, larger branch libraries in Reading and St. Bernard, replacing small, outdated facilities and honoring commitments made to these communities more than 10 years ago. The plan will cost $11.7 million to complete and will utilize prior- year savings and planned capital expenses for 2013-2015. The Library currently has no debt and will incur none as a result of these projects.
Design of these projects quickly got underway with architects K4 taking on the difficult task of squeezing an addition and elevator onto the small backyard of the Avondale Branch. More than accessibility, the Avondale Branch is getting a substantial renovation with new restrooms and the main floor program space again available for public use. New carpet, lighting and fresh paint along with a new HVAC system will transform the interior of the existing branch as well. Final touches include new furniture, additional computers and an expansion of the service desk to also be accessible. The $1 million project is scheduled for completion in late April.
Champlin Architecture designed both St. Bernard and Reading. The new 8,000-square-foot St. Bernard Branch will be built on property donated by St. Bernard. It replaces the 2,000-square-foot facility housed in the St. Bernard Municipal Center and generously contributed to the Library since 1970. The new Reading Branch will be 12,000 square feet and replaces the 2,000-square-foot storefront that has housed the branch since 2000.
McClorey & Savage Architects designed the renovation of the George “Boss” Cox House as the new Clifton Branch. The 10,000-square-foot home on the National Register of Historic Sites will replace the 2,500-square-foot storefront occupied by the Clifton Branch for more than 50 years. Alternatively called Parkview Manor because of its location across from Burnet Woods, this gorgeous home was built for George Cox in 1895 by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford. After Cox’s death, it housed the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for more than 60 years. When the fraternity moved to a new house, fraternity member Michael Dever acquired the building and later donated it to the Library for a new Clifton Branch.
All three branches will have expanded collections, spaces just for children, teens and adults, places to sit and enjoy the Library, computer labs, meeting/ program rooms and individual study rooms. The three branches were designed for energy efficiency, and LEED certification is being pursued for both Reading and St. Bernard. Reading will include a drive- up service window and ample parking; nonexistent in the current branch. St. Bernard will also have parking on a nearby lot, and Clifton will have onsite parking as well. When you walk in these new branches, don’t expect to see the large service desk. Staff at these branches will be providing service using mobile devices. All three will utilize self-check, and Clifton will have outdoor lockers for after-hours hold pick-up. The three branches were bid in February, and construction is expected to begin in April. Look for the new branches to be opening in 2015.
It is so exciting to see these projects moving forward after being on hold for many years. Opening day for a new library is indeed a cause for celebration. We hope to see you at groundbreaking ceremonies and Avondale’s ribbon cutting. You can follow the construction progress on our construction project website.