Ashland library designer offers three concepts

If voters approve a future tax levy, construction will begin in 2008.
Monday, August 7, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:42 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

Images of barns and rural landscapes flashed across the projector screen at South County Senior Center in Ashland, serving as points of comparison for preliminary models of a new building for the city’s public library.

The 10,000-square-foot building, which will cost $3.5 million to $4 million, dominated discussion at the Boone County Library District’s building committee meeting Tuesday. Nestor Bottino, the architect on the project, presented three preliminary designs to the committee, which delayed a decision on a conceptual direction for the building until the next meeting.

Each of the three models represented a 10,000-square foot building on 2.5 acres at 911 S. Henry Clay Blvd. The new building will replace the 3,335-square-foot rented building that currently houses the Southern Boone County Public Library.

Bottino, co-founder of Bottino Grund Architects, was part of the team that designed the Columbia Public Library, which was completed in 2002. He said designing a building, be it in Ashland or in a larger city, requires researching the community, the community’s architectural history and the building’s function.

“I don’t think it makes sense to build a building in Ashland that you would build in California,” Bottino said.

Ashland resident Cathy Salter said she supports a design that goes beyond a “standard box.”

“A library is a place you let your imagination go and be inspired by books and activities that go on in the library,” Salter said. “And when you put them in a setting that is also inspiring, it makes it a place that attracts people from all over the community.”

Meeting rooms, children’s programming areas, outdoor seating and an area for services for small businesses were design issues discussed at earlier public forums.

“There was lots of interest in the meeting rooms and being able to close them off from the rest of the library,” said Elinor Barrett, associate director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

Each of the three models has areas designated for such features.

“People seem to like the combination and separation of different usage areas,” Barrett said.

One of the design concepts is characterized by a series of service desks that would act as a spine for the library. The model of the building is somewhat elongated, and meeting rooms, programming areas and administrative offices line the perimeter to create a central open space for books.

A second model features a large circular room with a central service desk and bookshelves covering the walls. The book collection area lies outside the central room, and meeting rooms, programming areas and administrative offices line the perimeter.

Meeting rooms and programming areas are set off of the outer walls of the third model. The administrative area is fronted by a semi-circular service desk to one side of the building.

Toward the end of the committee meeting, Bottino outlined four aspects of the designs that he said the committee needs to decide before he can move forward with the final conceptual design: the configuration of the staff service desk; whether there should be a central room or a central open space; whether the book collection should be in the center of the building or along the perimeter; and whether the building should be elongated or square.

The new building project would be funded by a tax levy increase, but no decision has been made on the amount or when to put an issue before voters. If voters approve the increase, construction is slated to begin in 2008.

The building committee’s next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Columbia Public Library.

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