TOLEDO LUCAS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
The overall theme of this project was to enhance what has always been present in the library building by adding modern technology throughout, repositioning spaces and functions to make them more readily accessible to customers, adding some new spaces that will let customers experience, learn and create, and providing more of some the most popular areas for the public to enjoy.
Spaces were designed and constructed based on what people were asking for, driven by customer convenience, and developed from the customer perspective. Prior to the design, the Library studied usage data for its spaces, collections, and programs. They found spaces that needed to be resized based on actual use and demand. One example was a meeting room that was intended for programs of 100 people was primarily reserved by groups of 30-35 people. By reconsidering and customizing these spaces they can provide more right-sized spaces with supportive technology that respond to the needs of these groups and how they are using the space. At the core of this renovation is building for flexibility. In 3, 5, or 7 years when the community needs something different, the Library can quickly pivot.
Prior to renovating a library for the 21st century, particularly a building as iconic as Toledo Main, it was important to first understand the things sacred to the library and its community in terms of both function and the physical components of the space. Certainly, the historic art deco Central Court with its beautiful and irreplaceable vitralite glass panels, ornate original light fixtures, and wonderful historic murals, was the space that most struck a chord that resonated throughout the building. The strong art deco geometric motifs and colors found in the Central Court were used as the basis of design for all new millwork (displays, service desks and other cabinetry) throughout the library to bring that strong presence of the Central Court experience to all parts of the building. In the Central Court itself very little was done, retrofitting the existing light fixtures with new LED sources, adjusting the location of the redesigned service desk, and adding more new and popular material displays. The idea was to do just enough to allow a 21st century library to function inside the historic framework of the existing spaces.
The entry experience coming into the building from the parking lot was transformed in a way that was very different from the previous long corridor that led to the stair and elevators accessing the first level. This space has been reimagined to bring people down a bright, back-painted glass clad “Promenade” flanked by a glass enclosed community meeting room and a business incubator “Workspace” that showcases different business startups in progress. This Promenade is a harbinger of the materials and technology that carries throughout the rest of the renovated library.
Part of this project involved a complete reconceptualization of the spaces and services that can support entrepreneurs, local non-profit groups, jobseekers, and people just looking for a creative outlet. A group of librarians known as the “Economic Success Team” have left their desks to meet people out in the community and learn about what the library can do to help them in terms of services, resources, and spaces. In addition to providing access to meeting spaces outside of library hours, the Workspace allows non-profit and small businesses the opportunity for long-term space rental and hosts workshops by the Economic Success Team.
In addition to a technology training lab, a teaching lab holds sessions in business writing and creative writing alike through relationships with a local poet laureate and university departments. The Making space further supports entrepreneurs creating marketing materials or prototypes. All of these elements have overlaps with workforce development strategies that encourage customers looking for these services, to feel more comfortable asking for help.
The new Making lab is a classroom style, easily configured room for library program and for open use. It is intended for use by artists, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, or anyone looking for a creative outlet. Equipment in this space can travel to other buildings in the library system and also to study rooms for individual use. The Making lab is located adjacent to both teen and adult areas so that teens can be exposed to what adult library users are doing and vice versa. An additional Creativity Lab is located in the Children’s Area on the 3rd floor.
The Children’s Area has been fully re-vamped with new finishes, furniture, and lighting fixtures that have either been replaced or re-lamped. The collection layout has been reconfigured for improved browsing. The fixed service point has been reduced in size and a mobile service point has been added for flexible oversight during peak times. While this area does have re-furbished interactive play and learn elements throughout the space, additional items include a kitchen play area, an Everbright interactive wall, gaming area, and computer bar to provide access to technology-based learning, and a pre-primary enrichment room for small group programming. Laptop lending is also available in this area for use by parents. The highlights of this space are a Dr. Seuss gallery wall featuring original artwork in honor of Director Scoles. A dedicated Mystery Room has also been developed to house a generously donated Nancy Drew collection. An interactive “mystery wall” will engage children in problem solving activities with both visual and audio clues. The Library’s significant collection of illustrations will continue to be displayed throughout the entire children’s area creating a connection for both kids and parents alike with some of their favorite literacy characters.
The Wintergarden was added as part of the 90’s expansion and although not as historically significant as the original art deco structure, was nonetheless treated with a light touch as it acts as an important connector between the historic areas and the main collection wing of the library. This light filled space now has become a central gathering point off of which feeds a new Gallery, Café and local artist Gift Store.
HBM ￨ Design Architect, Architect of Record, Interior Designer