Library unveils plan for facelift

The first floor of Saratoga Springs Public Library would be extensively redesigned and renovated, ac

The first floor of Saratoga Springs Public Library would be extensively redesigned and renovated, according to preliminary plans unveiled on Monday.

Library officials say it’s time for a facelift for the building, which opened in 1995 at 49 Henry St. in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Major changes would include the relocation of the young adults section, expansion of the large-print collection and a new “more organic” layout of the circulation and book drop-off area.

The library staff and board of trustees have been discussing changes to the library’s first floor for the past year.

Growth, demographics and changes in what people want in a library are driving the new plans.

Paul Mays of architects Butler, Rowland, Mays of Mechanicville, said his firm met with library patrons, staff members and others as it developed a master plan for the first floor.

From these discussions his firm developed a new layout for the first floor. Mays said the master plan is still a work in progress and encouraged library officials to question the proposals.

No price figures have yet been placed on the project. The work could start in 2009 but, as of yet, no timetable has been set for construction.

Former library director Harry Dutcher, who attended Monday’s board meeting, said the debt payments on the new library will end this year, freeing up about $700,000 in 2009 for the renovation project.

A. Issac Pulver, the library’s newly hired director, listened carefully to Mays’ presentation but had few comments about the proposal at the board meeting.

One of the biggest changes in the first-floor layout would be moving the young adults section from the southeast corner to the northeast corner of the library, not far from the library’s coffee shop or cafe.

Mays said the current young adults area is well lighted by natural light with windows on two sides. He said this area is not used that much, especially during the day when the young adults are in school.

The preliminary plans would have the popular periodicals section of the library moved into this bright, sunny area so it could be used as a “quiet, reserved area off the beaten path,” Mays said.

The large-print collection would also be expanded. Mays said this is being done in consideration of the demographic changes in the Saratoga Springs community.

The library’s media collection, DVDs and books on tape, would be moved to the area near the coffee shop where the periodicals are currently located.

The “new and popular” section of the library just south of the circulation desk would be expanded and made to look more like a retail book store, Mays said.

The entrance and circulation desk at the library would also be changed so that the flow of people coming and going would be more natural.

The circulation desk would be equipped with new technology, including some self-checkout areas, and fitted with more service areas.

The library currently has a restricted borrowing policy for the new and popular items and DVDs, Mays said. These newest books and other items can only be taken out by people who live in the library’s taxation district, which has the same boundaries as the Saratoga Springs Enlarged City School District. He said library staff and board of trustees are discussing possible changes to this policy.

The final pieces of the new plan include a first-floor break room for library staff members and, possibly, a staff rest room near the break room.

Library board members asked Mays questions about the preliminary plans, including the relocation of the young adults area to a remote corner of the library.

Mays said young adult areas are “difficult” to plan. The idea was to get this area as close as possible to the coffee shop, which is popular with young adults.

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