Webster Public Library To Relocate During New Construction

Library to close for two weeks beginning Sept. 19

A view of the east side of the Webster Groves Public Library with the addition to the rear of the existing main library building. (click for larger version)
September 17, 2010
The Webster Groves Public Library is making plans to temporarily relocate in advance of its $7 million expansion and renovation plan.

For the relocation, the library at 301 E. Lockwood will close for two weeks beginning Sunday, Sept. 19. It will reopen at the new location on Monday, Oct. 4. The temporary site is 3232 S. Brentwood Blvd. between Marshall and Newport avenues.

Construction on the existing library is expected to begin in early October and take about 15 months, according to Tom Cooper, library director. The library should be moving back home around February or March 2012.

The library will use about 12,000-square feet of the former Seiler building for its temporary quarters, Cooper said. He noted that the space is larger that the library's existing space.

As an aside, Cooper mentioned the Kirkwood Public Library's recent move from temporary quarters to its renovated library.

"Kirkwood just closed its temporary quarters. They gave us all their shelving and fixtures that they used," Cooper said. He said Webster is also using the same moving company as Kirkwood library did for its move.

"Moving a library is a very specific job. We wanted to get someone who knows what they're doing," he said.

The library will maintain most of its current services at the temporary site, Cooper said.

In addition to circulating books, DVDs, CDs and more, there will be computers for public use, free Wi-Fi access, reference services, and children's story hours and programs. The library's hours and telephone numbers will stay the same.

Nothing will be due while the library is closed. Due dates have been extended on anything checked out until Oct. 4 and after.

The outside book drops will remain in place at the 301 E. Lockwood location for a few days after closing, and then be moved to 3232 S. Brentwood Blvd.

"This is a good time to check out a lot of things so you won't be short of books to read or movies to watch," Cooper said.

On requested items, the library will hold them until it reopens. The requests will not expire while the library is closed.

Expansion Plans

Construction on the current 1951 library building is expected to cost an estimated $4.6 million and double the size of the library from 10,870-square feet to 21,235-square feet. The projected $7 million price tax includes library construction costs, architects/engineering fees and relocation expenses, Cooper said.

The design of the renovated library includes:

  • A 3,000-square-foot Children's Room;

  • A 3,000-square-foot lower level that will house computers and the Reference Room;

  • A 100-seat auditorium for enhanced library programming;

  • Space for additional computers.

To make room for these facilities, the interior of the library to the northeast, where the book stacks are located, will be demolished and a three-story addition added, Cooper said. He noted that only three parking spaces will be lost due to the expansion.

"The three-story addition will be computers and reference on the lower level, the main book stacks on the ground level, and the new Children's Room on the upper level," Cooper said.

The current reading room and wing to the west will remain. Cooper said the whole reading room will receive a renovation and makeover.

"But, the intention is for it to remain substantially as it was originally designed," Cooper said. "The architects refer to it as the Webster Groves living room and hope to keep it that way."

The current Children's Room, located to the rear of the library, served as an auditorium until the 1980s. It will be reverted to that original use. Since it has been the Children's Room, the library has not had a meeting space.

"With the meeting room, we will be able to do things like computer classes for seniors and hold film series," Cooper said. "We will have a lot more opportunities - more things like other libraries do because they have more space."

"It (the expansion) will give us a lot of extra space," Cooper said.

Cooper said the changes to the library are in response to a poll which was done several years ago.

"People said they wanted better children's services and better services to seniors," Cooper said.

In February 2009, Webster Groves voters approved a tax increase making the library's expansion plans possible while providing additional money to operate the library.

Bond Financing

As another step toward the library's expansion, it completed its $7.08 million bond financing this month. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to finance the construction.

Based on historically low interest rates currently in the municipal-bond market; the library's solid, investment-grade credit rating of "A-" from Standard & Poor's; and the 35 percent subsidy provided under the Build America Bonds program, the library's effective interest rate on this 20-year financing was 3.85 percent. The bonds were issued as certificates of participation, a form of municipal bond.

The bonds were underwritten and sold by Edward Jones to its retail clients, many of whom live or work in Webster Groves.

"The Library Board of Trustees chose Edward Jones because we wanted to give local residents the opportunity to participate in the project by purchasing our bonds," said Cooper. "With Edward Jones selling more than $4 million in the Greater St. Louis Area and $1 million sold in Webster Groves, we were pleased to see that local residents responded to this opportunity and really supported the project by investing in it."

Too Contemporary

Some Webster Park residents oppose the design of the addition, which will use a translucent glass.

Webster Park was recently designated on the National Register of Historic Places as a neighborhood, and the library is part of that neighborhood.

"The addition is a contemporary design which we believe is not in keeping with a historic building," Webster Park resident Doug Stanley said.

He noted that when residents approved the tax increase for the levy, campaign literature implied that the historic nature of the library would be preserved.

"We think they have not followed their marketing materials from that vote," Stanley said. He said Webster Park residents believe there was not enough public input into the design.

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