An artistic rendering of the DCL’s freestanding library project. (COURTESY OF KING & KING ARCHITECTS)
For the past decade, DeWitt Community Library (DCL) officials have been looking to get the library out of its limited rented space at ShoppingTown Mall and move into a bigger building so they can offer a wider array of services to the area.
As soon enough, they may achieve that goal.
The DCL is currently in the process of getting approval from the town of DeWitt planning board to build a freestanding building on a subdivision of land on 5146 Jamesville Road, a property currently owned by J.K. Construction.
“The project is going to be transformational. Libraries are evolving, and we can’t evolve in this current space,” said Wendy Scott, DCL executive director. “I think that residents of our service area deserve a library that will change as [their] needs and priorities change. When you look at what other libraries are able to provide in terms of varied and flexible spaces for reading, study, exploring and communicating, it’s very easy to understand why we are excited about the opportunities that the new library will offer.”
While the library has been located in the strip mall location that eventually turned into ShoppingTown Mall for more than 50 years, the current location under the food court in the mall has been the library’s home only since 2008. According to Scott, this location was supposed to be a temporary one until the library could find a way to expand.
“We ran out of space pretty much as soon as we moved to the current location in 2008,” said Scott. “This [ShoppingTown Mall location] was always considered to be a temporary location until we could relocate because it’s quite small for our needs and lacks flexibility.”
The library relocation project is expected to cost somewhere around $8 million, but about $2.8 million has already been set aside by the library, according to Scott. Taxpayers in the town of DeWitt approved a 2015 library tax rate of $85.28 per $100,000 home assessed value in May, and some of that money will go toward helping costs associated with the project. Scott said the library is also applying for state grants to provide additional funding.
This new location is ideal, said Scott, because it is in the center of the library’s coverage area, is easy to get to from Route 481 and Route 5 and will be located along the town’s planned bike trail.
The new library would allow for the addition of an expanded teen area, quiet study areas, meeting areas, rooms for tutoring, outdoor space for meetings and programming and a dedicated area to be used as a maker space.
“A maker space is a place where people can come and work on creative, innovative projects … It’s the direction libraries are going — the maker space concept of collaboration, creativity, hands-on learning and skills building,” said Scott. “This kind of dynamic activity requires a dedicated space where people can work on projects over time, using equipment, tools and technology that are permanently housed in one location.”
Scott said the library hopes to have the subdivision plan for the property approved by the DeWitt Planning Board soon so the library can close the purchase on the property in the fall, get together finalized plans, put the project out to bid for construction and possibly have a groundbreaking in spring of 2016.
The potential impact of the library’s exit from ShoppingTown Mall is unclear. Calls to ShoppingTown General Manager Jim Tull were not returned.
Information and additional pictures for the proposed relocation project can be found online at dewhome.wordpress.com, where interested patrons can sign up for email updates, or at the library in a information storyboard display.
Hayleigh Gowans is a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.