New Library taking shape
The foundation has been poured and the walls of the new Basehor Community Library are standing.
After a $2.99 million bond issue was approved by voters in February 2006 and a parcel of land donated by local residents Ray and Ann Breuer, the 13,600-square-foot vision at 158th Street and Garden Parkway is starting to become a reality.
At a site tour Thursday evening, Library Board members and employees could almost hear the crackling fire in the soon-to-be fireplace and see the shelves of books in what they hope will become a gathering place for the community.
"We're at that stage when we get that shell up and people say, 'Wow, they're going to be done with that soon,'" Roger Feyerherm, general contractor with Feyerherm Construction, said to the group. "But we've still got a lot of details to work out."
Several of those modern details were explained throughout the tour, starting with the parking lot and the "green" approach to handling stormwater runoff. Instead of the usual curbed and guttered, raised, grassy parking lot dividers, several bioswales will be constructed. Unlike anything seen within the city limits, a bioswale has sides that slope inward and will be filled with native plants such as purple and yellow coneflower and prairie clover. As the runoff flows through the bioswale, silt and pollutants are filtered out before it reaches the storm sewer. It's a design element that is functional as well as appealing to the eye, Feyerherm said.
"It's really kind of the wave of the future for handling stormwater," he said.
A stone veneer wainscot and stucco along with a standing seam metal roof will make up the exterior of the prairie-style building.
The main entrance is on the east side of the building and a simple yet spacious floor plan will greet patrons. An enclosed meeting room will be on the immediate left with a separate children's area on the far left.
The intake and employee area, along with the checkout desk, will be straight ahead, and the adult library with a reference desk will be off to the right. It will feature two study rooms, bay windows, a large, natural tile, gas-operated fireplace and a 22-foot exposed wood vaulted ceiling.
The Friends of the Library are also accepting donations to go toward a large saltwater fish tank for patrons to enjoy.
Library director Carla Kaiser said the library enlisted the help of interior designer Lisa Lamb from GLPM Architects to come up with a color scheme to use throughout the library.
"The description of the interior from our interior designer is 'prairie meets Pottery Barn,'" Kaiser said. "I think she's done a great job so far."
With the exception of the entry, bathrooms and intake area, the entire library will be carpeted predominately with a butterscotch and beige colored carpet. Light and dark blue carpeting will be used as accents in the adult area, while a dark blue carpet with orange-red accents will cover the children's section. The understated, repeated circle pattern on the children's area carpet goes with several ceiling domes planned for that area along with the subtle curves used throughout the library.
The neutral and blue theme will continue on the walls as well.
Kaiser said library officials are still mulling over furniture options.
"It's going to be a gorgeous space; really nice," Feyerherm said.
Along with its outward beauty, the new library also will present a wealth of modern conveniences.
A large opening the size of a garage door on the southwest corner of the building will soon become the library's drive up book return area. This detail will not only be a convenient one for library patrons, but for employees as well.
Thatcher Rea, technology services coordinator for the library, said books will be automatically scanned when placed in the book return and put back into the library's computer system instead of employees scanning each book by hand.
Both patrons and employees also will benefit from the new library's planned Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or self-checkout system. Kaiser said an article she read about a library in New Mexico that has gone to almost 100 percent self-checkout sparked the idea, which will allow the library staff to focus more on customer service.
"Instead of the staff checking out each barcode, the staff can spend more of their time helping people," she said.
The library's Web site has already undergone a facelift and the newly introduced Wi-Fi Hot Spot at the library's temporary location will most likely transfer over to the new building as well.
A couple of "maybes" planned for the new space, dependent on funding, include a 16-foot outside patio area and an extra conference room in the basement. If those areas pan out, patrons will gain access to the patio through doors on either side of the fireplace and entry into the basement area by way of a staircase or elevator.
Members of the group that toured the facility said they were impressed with the size of the interior.
"It does feel bigger once you step in from the outside, so I was pleased with that," said Janice Garcia, a member of the Library Board. "I think it's nice that everybody is going to have their own section and it's not so crowded. I can't wait to share it with the community."
With a crew of about 16 working on the project daily, Feyerherm said they are right on schedule with the construction and hope to be finished in early to mid December.
"We haven't had to do a lot of adjustments," he said. "The biggest challenge was the weather this spring."
However, this completion date is not the same as opening day, Kaiser said. It will probably take at least a month to move the furniture and shelves in, as well as transfer the books and supplies from the temporary location to the new building and integrate the opening day collection with the current books.
Employees also will need to be trained on the RFID system before the library can open.
Kaiser said library officials hope volunteers will be willing to lend a hand with the move and assist the staff in showing patrons how to use the self-checkout system. Opening day is still planned for early 2008.
"It's exciting," she said. "I can't get away from the word, but it just is. We really hope it's a gathering place for people and we'll finally have the space to offer that."