By Logan McCullough
After nearly two years, Buda earlier this month celebrated the groundbreaking of a new facility that will house a larger and innovative public library.
The new library comes as part of the city’s $55 million bond approved by voters in November 2014.
In addition to the library, the city’s facilities project, which totaled $21 million, also holds the construction of a new municipal facility and public safety building.
The new building will be located at the corner of Main and East Loop Street. The city hall and public library will be combined into one 54,683 square foot facility.
The primary architectural firm which was appointed for this project, Page Architects, designed this facility as a “central-hub for Buda civic life,” according to Public Information Officer David Marino.
Library Director Melinda Hodges is hopeful that the combinations of city hall and the public library will be mutually beneficial.
“With the people who have business at city hall, it may not have occurred to them to visit the library, they would already be there and think, ‘hey, I see something cool’ and check it out,” Hodges said. “Likewise, people that have business at the library, maybe thought they didn’t belong at a city hall and will be drawn to it.”
Of the 54,683 square feet, approximately 25,000 square feet is dedicated to the new library. Buda’s current library is only 5,200 square feet.
With only 6.5 current library employees, and an increase in size of almost five times, the necessity for hiring more staff is at an all-time high.
“The hiring process will begin at the beginning of next year,” Hodges said. “We’ll have to see how the budget shakes out to determine how many people to add next year.”
This size increase will not only increase the number of volumes available from approximately 27,000 to 60,000, but will also give the library the resources to implement a number of new programs, features and amenities.
The full list of these programs and amenities is not currently set in stone, but plans are ambitious.
“We’re anticipating lots of new programs, hopefully for children, teens and adults. We’ll have the space to do it, and hopefully we’ll have the staff. It all depends on what we can get,” Hodges said. “We just passed a five-year long-range plan that incorporates some of the future programs.”
These programs and resources include computer labs, digital arts labs, combinations of hands-on and self-directed classes, 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters and even sewing machines.
“So many people need a sewing machine every once in a while,” Hodges said.
The full five year plan will be available soon on the library’s main website.
The library is currently in the “document design” stage, but the expected date of completion is “late 2017 or early 2018” according to Hodges.
A final date will be announced soon.
In the meantime, the library is using its current resources to implement a mobile maker space.
The concept is to give both students and library users alike a chance to use these resources in a more hands on manner.
“We are going to compile a whole bunch of different machines, resources, materials that we can use for a number of different projects,” Hodges said. “We’ll have classes in the library, but we’ll also be taking it out to the schools to give the students more of a hands on chance to play with these things.”
The plan is to have the mobile maker space ready for use by November.