Main library seeks feedback ahead of renovation closure

Main library seeks feedback ahead of renovation closure

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Several neighbors voicing their renovation reservations at the main library Wednesday.

The Toledo Lucas County Public Library plans to close the Downtown Toledo location for the more than $10 million project.

It's business as usual at the main library downtown, but after Labor Day it will close for renovations.

"I come down here three times a week, now I have to find someplace else to go," said Ron Orteta, a regular customer of the library.

Once the Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main announced they would close for a year to accommodate construction, several were concerned about the idea.

Library leaders say by closing the downtown location they shorten the construction period, minimize costs and decrease safety concerns.

"It will be a substantial renovation where we are taking a look at renovating 135,000 square feet out of 275,000 square foot building so over half the building will be touched in some way or another," said Jason Kucsma, deputy director for the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. "It will be a remarkable transformation, while also honoring the gorgeous art deco architecture that people have come to love about the building."

It's been 20 years since the last renovation at the library. They see close to 2,000 people at the downtown location daily and wanted to ensure they were increasing opportunities for their customers with this proposal.

Library leaders outlined several proposed plans for the renovation Wednesday night at their public forum, but the biggest changes include restructuring the parking level and first floor of the library to incorporate additional meeting space, technology and much more.

With their plan in place, they wanted to hear from the community Wednesday on how they could best serve them through the transition.

"Now we need to talk to the community about how do we provide continuity of service during closure, but also how do we activate, animate the space when we reopen in 2019," said Jason Kucsma.

Community members had a lot to say from the proposed designs, to programs and more. Those who are interested in giving input on the project can do so here.

"It wouldn't be a place that I could feel relaxed in," said one library goer during the forum.

"What services are being lost and how we can deal with those?" questioned another.

"We vote for money for the library," said Ron Orteta. "I want to know where that money is coming from (to renovate) and who authorized it? Who got the bid and how'd they get the bid?"

Library officials explained money for the more than ten-million-dollar project will be both local and state dollars.

One of the biggest concerns at Wednesdays meeting was over the genealogy resources provided at the downtown location. Library officials admitted they are still working out the details, but hope to keep the third floor open during construction for this purpose. Some asked questions wanting hard answers, while others from neighboring communities offered solutions.

"Will you be able to do it or come September will you say, 'Oh we changed our minds we can't do this?'" questioned one local genealogist.

"Here at the main library they have a lot of fabulous things too and we want to be able to be able to help them during that temporary closing to be able to help facilitate people who still want to be able to do that," explained Darlene Berry with the Family History Center in Perrysburg who offered to help out during construction.

Library leaders said they are still making plans for the renovation closure and will take all feedback into consideration. They say they plan to work with their other branch libraries to fill gaps and offer programming during the transition and work with community partners whenever possible.

The Toledo Lucas County Public Library has two other public forums planned before the temporary closure.

The first is on May 30th at 6 p.m. to finalize their accommodation plan during renovation and the last forum is on June 28th beginning at 6 p.m. to review and refine ideas for the new additions at the main library.

To learn more or give feedback on the project you can visit the Toledo Lucas County Public Library website.

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