The Bloomington City Council is expected to get its first look at conceptual designs for a scaled-down $15 million library expansion by late summer.
The Bloomington Public Library board this week selected Engberg Anderson Architects to work on those conceptual designs. A formal contract is expected to be approved in February.
“The intent is that those conceptual designs will show the council that this is a project that they agree with and can get behind, really giving them a picture, so that they’re able to make an educated decision,” said Library Director Jeanne Hamilton.
Library leaders have tried for years to get traction with the council on expansion, to help meet what they say is growing demand for library services.
The board selected Engberg Anderson in part because of the firm’s experience with other library projects and its pitch for creating little, inexpensive “wows” that patrons can experience throughout the library, Hamilton said. They also demonstrated a willingness to “consider everything,” she said.
“They do understand that we have a finite budget. They seem to be open to thinking outside the box and finding creative solutions for our existing space and what can be added on,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton previously said the library has about $3 million in reserves for a capital project and would launch a fundraising campaign to help cover the remainder of what’s needed. Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason has said the city could help an expansion that's in the $10 million to $12 million range.
“We’re really excited that we have some forward momentum on this project,” Hamilton said. “We see a lot of use in the library, and we just want to better meet those community needs that we’re seeing.”
The library previously expanded in 2006, but Hamilton said that only gave the library 25% more space, while the city's population has nearly doubled since the library was built in the 1970s.
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