The preliminary floor plan and services of the new Searcy Public Library have been detailed for The Daily Citizen by White County Public Library System Director while she waits for the results of fundraising study for the new location.

The library is relocating to the former Searcy Athletic Club building on Beebe-Capps Expressway. The facility is 33,000 square feet, compared to around 9,000 at the current facility at 113 E. Pleasure Ave. The renovation cost is currently projected at $5.3 million, and the feasibility study is due by the end of the month.

With the new facility being “three times the size of the old facility,” Ino said the preliminary plans have “both expanded and new service space.” She expects the library to be a “popular community hub” with meeting spaces for larger groups, study rooms for smaller groups or individuals, a coffee shop, an exhibition gallery, a passport office and information services and programs that the library will be offering for children, teens and adults.

According to the layout of the first floor, when visitors enter the new library, they would go through a “large foyer dedicated to honoring our donors that is open to the ceiling of the second floor,” Ino said. Three primary service areas would be visible immediately, she said, the adult, teen and children’s areas.

“Immediately to the right is the entrance to the children’s area,” she said. “Looking straight ahead is the front desk for the adult collection services. From the foyer, looking up to the second floor, The teen library is visible.”

The children’s area would have “40 percent more shelf space and a separate program room dedicated to children’s programs,” Ino said. Several “comfortable seating areas with some spaces adjacent to the adult collection” would be available.

Concerning the adult collection area, Ino said it would have more shelf space as well with shorter shelving units and wider spacing between units to make browsing the collection easier and more accessible than what is offered now. There would be multiple individual and small group seating areas that would have charging stations available for patrons who have brought electronic devices with them.

An area history collection, “adjacent to the adult collection, will have more shelf space to expand that unique collection,” she said, adding that notary and copy services would be available in the Adult Collection Area and there would be three small meeting/study rooms that she said would be available to reserve by the public at no charge. Patrons would be able to reserve rooms online or by calling the library.

The library would have a “U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility,” Ino said, “making it one of only two places in White County that offer this service. The office will accept applications for a U.S. passport and take photos needed for the application.”

An elevator would be located across from the passport office and a White County Public Library Friends Bookstore. This would be a place where patrons can purchase used books and promotional merchandise, she said.

The coffee shop also would be on the first floor and would be offering “three points of service – a small serving area inside the facility, an outdoor space with tables and chairs on the park side of the library and a drive through window –making the venue an attractive business opportunity for a vendor,” Ino said.

The coffee shop would have an outside entrance for coffee shop staff and customers on the park side of the library, “accessible even when the library is closed.” She said the outdoor pavilion would be a place for both patrons of the library and the coffee shop customers to meet and relax in the outdoor setting.

The drive-through feature at the back side of the library would serve both the library patrons and the coffee shop customers, Ino said. There would be two lanes – one marked “Books” and another marked “Coffee” – that would merge into one lane as patrons approach the two drive-through windows – one for picking up reserved library materials and another for serving coffee to customers.

Next, Ino focused on a new bridge that would be connecting Yancey Park to the library, joining two pieces of city property “to be used as one piece of property where visitors can move freely between the library, coffee shop and park.”

On the second floor would be the teen library, a public computer lab, a small business and career center, an exhibition gallery and three public meeting rooms.

Ino called the new space for teens “an attractive place for teens to meet after school or during summer.” She said this space would provide 60 percent more shelf space for library materials than the current facility. “Teens will have their own library program/media/game room, a study room, a YouTube recording studio and several seating areas with charging stations.”

Ino said the exhibition gallery will be visible from the first-floor adult collection area along the upper-floor perimeter. It would host traveling exhibits, she said, and it would feature arts and crafts in the space that used to be an indoor walking track.

“An adjoining meeting room can be opened up to the exhibition gallery to house larger pieces of an exhibit and/or to serve as a meeting area for groups visiting the exhibit,” she said.

The three large meeting rooms on the second floor would be available for reservation at no charge. Ino said the largest of those rooms could seat 88 people at the tables. She noted that the second and third room could be joined as one space, seating 80-plus people by opening up a “movable partition.” With that in place, the second room would seat 30 and the third room would seat 50. Just like the study rooms, patrons would be able reserve the meeting rooms either online or by calling the library.

Explaining the public computer lab, Ino said it would have 20 public computers in addition to a workspace for six patrons bringing in their own laptops. The lab would be offering printing, fax, copy and scan services.

The small business and career center would adjoin the public computer lab and would offer special resources and assistance for job seekers and small businesses. Special software for the computer in this area would include Cypress Resume, Canva, InDesign and other Adobe Suite products. If patrons need assistance, they would be able to make appointments with staff for one-on-one help. A large “format printer” would be available in this area for printing “poster-sized” signage,” Ino said

“The center will seek partnerships with other agencies and nonprofits to promote and facilitate services offered by the center,” she said.

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