SITKA — The expansion of the public library in Sitka will enable the building to accommodate the changing role of libraries in the 21st century.
The city assembly has approved the design for Kettleson Memorial Library after hearing from library director Sarah Bell and Paul Voelckers of MRV Architects in Juneau, KCAW reported.
“I think what libraries are evolving to is somewhat of a community center,” Bell said. “It’s a place where people can come and share what they consider important.”
The building will have two folding walls that will allow smaller events, or they can be opened up so the full space can be used for large events.
The space will also have a separate room for computers and technology, and an expanded teen section that is separate from children’s books.
“Teen population library use is a key growing element that libraries everywhere are experiencing,” Voelckers said. “A lot of collaborative school projects, socialization, all of those kinds of things have really pushed teen use of public libraries, so it’s a nice phenomenon.”
The library expects to have even less space than it currently has for books after the expansion.
That’s because more people are accessing nonfiction, research and reference materials online. That allows libraries to focus on their physical collections, like nonfiction books.
However, Bell said the library also must continue to accommodate older users, who still want the traditional library experience.
“Not everybody wants to download to a Kindle or a computer,” Bell said. “Maybe they like their CDs. So we try to meet all those needs. You can download audio books and e-books through Kettleson, through the state library, and you can come in and use computers if you so desire. But you can also come in and pick up a magazine or a newspaper.”
There is about $6 million on hand for the expansion project, with a majority of that coming from the state.
The hope is raise another $265,000 in donations for other amenities, including interior carpeting and furniture.
A final design is expected by May with construction to begin in August.