April 4, 2006
At a news conference today, officials of the Kanawha County Public Library system made two major announcements pertaining to their plans to build a new Main Library in downtown Charleston.
Tom Heywood, board president for The Library Foundation of Kanawha County, Inc., announced a lead gift for the project in the amount of $5 million, which has been pledged by The Clay Foundation. To date, nearly $8.5 million has been designated toward this project.
"We're obviously thrilled with the generosity of the Clay family and grateful for their continued commitment to the Kanawha Valley. We are especially thankful to them for realizing the significance of this particular project and for supporting it in our early phase of fund raising," said Heywood.
Mike Albert, KCPL board president, unveiled the official plans for the new Main Library, which will be situated in the block bordered by Lee Street, Leon Sullivan Way, Quarrier Street and Dickinson Street. The site, which was selected because of its easy interstate access and its accessibility to public transportation, will hold the approximately 140,000-square-foot building and parking for about 150 vehicles. The three-story building will be made of green-tinted glass and light gray limestone with green granite accents. Some of its special features include: improved building layout, at least 70 more computer stations, an interactive preschool exploration center, a children's programming area, a career center, a climate-controlled West Virginia Room, and versatile meeting spaces.
"I believe this project will enhance our educational landscape in the Kanawha Valley by providing equal access to information for everyone. The current facility already attracts 40,000 people on a monthly basis, and we have every expectation that this figure will double in a new building," said Albert.
The total project is expected to cost approximately $50 million, which includes site acquisition, construction, and other expenses for the Main Library and $10 million for improvements to six branch libraries throughout Kanawha County. Over the next several years, the board intends to pursue new facilities for the Marmet and Elk Valley areas and renovations and expansions to the branches in Dunbar, St. Albans, Cross Lanes and Sissonville.
The KCPL Board is finalizing its financing strategy. As a part of that scenario the Board intends to seek funding through a combination of city, county, state and federal funding, including a bond referendum, a very important phase of the project. Most likely, a special election will be held in spring 2007 to seek levy support. Library officials anticipate that 50 percent of the total will come from public funding, and the remaining will be raised from private sources. Completion of the project is expected to take five to seven years.
"We're so thrilled to be moving forward with this project. As people learn more about our plans, the excitement will continue to grow. In KCPL's 95-year history, the Main Library has been housed in six different locations, but never one that was designed to be a library. A well-designed, service-oriented facility such as what we envision is an essential requirement for operating a library system in an efficient manner," said Linda Wright, KCPL director.