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Two library growth plans up for public review

Kettleson Memorial Library Director Sarah Bell reads from sticky notes attached to architect plans for the library's expansion. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Kettleson Memorial Library Director Sarah Bell reads from sticky notes attached to architect plans for the library’s expansion. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Now’s your chance to weigh in on the new design of Sitka’s Kettleson Memorial Library.

The library is planning an expansion, and Juneau-based MRV Architects has drawn up two designs. Library officials are taking public comment for the next week.

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The library is expected to grow by a little more than a third. In addition to completely rearranging its layout, one of the biggest changes will come to the areas that serve children, and through the addition of a multipurpose room, to better host special events.

“Toward the front of the building we’ve got the children’s area,” she said. “In each plan, the children’s area is adjacent to the multipurpose area, which is adjacent to the adult seating area along the waterfront, which we absolutely wanted to maintain.”

View the plans: Click the links for PDF versions of Concept A and Concept B.

That would be the library’s huge windows that look out on Sitka Sound, and let patrons gaze at mountains, fishing boats and the occasional marine mammal.

The new teen area includes two nearby study rooms. The bathrooms move to the front of the building, where they’re more easily accessible. The library’s historic and special collections room is bigger.

The boards holding the two library designs are covered in Post-It notes, which have various people’s comments on them. Bell reads a few.

“Like this floor plan!” reads one.

OK, so, some of them aren’t terribly specific. But others went into great detail.

“No storage in the children’s room or bathrooms. Instead, have removable sliding glass wall on this side to accommodate overflow of children’s programs and adult presentations.”

“Put plumbing next to other plumbing.”

On plan B, it says “the circ desk is too isolated; not visible enough.”

“They’re talking about the circulation desk,” Bell says. “One of the things when we started this project was that we were not going to be asking for additional staff. It’s pretty critical that, where the staff is working, they can see the different areas of the library.”

Bell says you can leave a sticky note on the two floor plans, for the next week or so. After that, they hand off the feedback to architects.

“Between now and another three or four weeks, they’ll have some modified (plans), taking into consideration everything we’ve asked them to do,” she said. “We’ll come up with the final plan, which will be really exciting.”

And that final plan will help architects get a more precise picture of how much the project will cost.

“Then in November, there will be sort of the big unveiling,” she said. “And after that, it will go out for construction bids. It may be a little ambitious, but we feel like we could go into construction by next August.”

The expansion plan is designed to accommodate a library that boasts huge numbers for a community of Sitka’s size. It helps that it’s near cruise ship arrival points. Passengers and crew often drop by to ask for directions or check e-mail. But even in the off-season, the library is never empty.

“We’re open 71 hours a week, which is pretty good for the locals,” Bell said. “We have people waiting out at the door in the morning, and people in the evening who are packing up their stuff at 9 (p.m.).”

Beneath those two floor plans is a stack of Post-It notes and a few pens. Bell says they’re waiting for your thoughts.

If you can’t make it to the library, comments can be e-mailed to Sarah Bell, the library director. Her e-mail address is sarahb@cityofsitka.com.

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