Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Roanoke narrows sights on library's 'super branch'

Roanoke Public Library system officials are developing plans for a new "super branch," five times bigger than any of the other six neighborhood annexes.

Sheila Umberger, library director, said the site of the proposed 30,000-square-foot facility hasn't been chosen. The most likely locations aren't being made public yet. "The purchase of land might be involved," said Umberger, who reasoned that early disclosure of desired locales might drive up the price of property.

The main factor in site selection will be picking a place "where it can serve multiple neighborhoods in a convenient place," she said. Among the goals for the new branch: more parking than is available at the 54,000-square-foot downtown main library and a far bigger book collection than in any of the neighborhoods.

What Umberger calls the "super branch" has previously been described as a "full-service" operation in the $185,000 comprehensive library plan that utilized outside consulting and was completed in 2005.

The new branch will be paid for out of the roughly $3.9 million remaining from city bond funding that was designated for the library system in 2004, Umberger said. That municipal bond money originally totaled roughly $5.9 million, and about $2 million of that will be spent on the renovation and expansion of the Jackson Park and Gainsboro branches, which are scheduled for completion in about a year.

The super branch's location will likely be announced by early 2009, Umberger said, adding that the project should be completed in 2011 or 2012.

-- Rob Johnson

Weather Journal

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