CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Public Library’s main branch in downtown Charleston will get a makeover.
The board on Tuesday approved a resolution to renovate and expand the building on Capitol Street instead of moving it to a new location.
Alan Engelbert, director of the Kanawha library, said the plan saves them money and preserves history for the nearly 100 year old building. The current library has operated there for the past 50 years.
“This is an iconic building. It’s probably the best location in the entire city of Charleston and it would be pretty hard to say we ought to go somewhere else,” Engelbert said.
The board previously discussed moving the building to a different site, but Engelbert said the best option was to keep it where it is so it can continue to serve as a “community hub.”
“We kept coming back to this and said this is right the project. This is the right place to be,” he said.
Part of the project includes building an enclosed bridge to connect the Summers Street parking garage with the third floor of the library.
“People will be able to come right off the parking garage into a covered walkway and right into the library,” Engelbert said.
The board is calling the project “Reimagine Your Library.” The renovation will maintain the classic structure of the existing building exterior while adding a modern touch to it. The original arched windows on each side of the building will be fully restored, allowing for more natural light to enter the renovated inside of the building.
About 20,000 square feet of space will be added to the structure’s 60,000 square feet.
Engelbert said there will be more public spaces including reading areas, study rooms and meeting spaces. Currently, there is only one meeting room and no study rooms.
“We expect to have spaces for people anywhere from two people up to 200, so we’ll be able to have some significant events here that there’s no way that we possibly could do that now,” Engelbert said.
In addition, there will be an updated 10,000 square feet Children’s Department with space for activities like story time and crafts.
The entire project is expected to cost around $27 million. About 80 percent of the funding, which is about $21 million, will come from private donors — making it one of the largest privately-funded public library projects in Kanawha County.
Construction is scheduled to start in Fall 2018 and will take about two years to complete.
To learn more about the project, visit the Kanawha County Public Library’s new website.