It will replace the Boardwalk Branch
While the enjoyment of being abundantly captivated by books, DVDs, and educational resources in a relaxing and comfortable space has timelessly drawn people to the library, patrons will soon have another reason to snag a good book and get swept away to their heart’s content at their local library.
The Mid-Continent Public Library is building a new culinary-inspired Green Hills Library Center that will feature a coffee shop, demonstration kitchen, two full-size kitchens available for food-based businesses, and community programming room with seating for more than 200 people. The capability of the innovated center to inspire and entertain will be unmatched. The 35,000 square feet center is being built at 8549 North Green Hills Road and will replace the antiquated Boardwalk Branch. The Boardwalk Branch is scheduled to permanently close on March 13, library officials say.
The cost of the new Green Hills Library Center is approximately $10.9 million.
Emily Becker, community relations specialist with Mid-Continent, said: “The Green Hills Library Center will be the home of the first public library culinary literacy center in the region that will help people learn about food preparation, nutrition, and food culture. It will also provide culinary-based programming to teach reading, math, science, and other subjects in a commercial kitchen with classroom seating.”
Whether it’s the goal of visitors to learn basic culinary skills or master a scrumptious meal and sublime dessert, the center will play a healthful and vital role in educating locals about assembling and serving super-satisfying meals. True, the clever idea to promote literacy through food was ambitiously derived elsewhere and used as a model for libraries across the county. Nevertheless, the Green Hills Library Center will be the first of its kind in this region to teach healthy cooking.
“Cooking and eating are educational acts and provide opportunities to learn math, science, languages, history, and so much more. Using cooking as the vehicle for learning, the Culinary Center at MCPL’s Green Hills Library Center will advance literacy through food and cooking around a communal table,” said Steve Potter, the MCPL director and CEO.
Today, more than ever, people understand the importance of striking that heart-healthy balance, and many need a place to connect with people and learn about feeding their bodies with nutritious foods. On the basis of success of other culinary literacy centers, the Green Hills Library Center will serve as a magnet for food and literacy.
Potter said the library will also feature two “health department-certified kitchens available for local food-based businesses.”
“Food-based small businesses have unique challenges when they try to start up or scale up, not least of which is access to commercial kitchens. Seeing a need in the Northland, and knowing our food-based businesses could use this support, we created incubator kitchens within the Culinary Center to help small businesses and grow the local economy,” said Potter.
When the center opens late summer, visitors can meet and collaborate in dedicated public use spaces at the library. Renderings of the library reveal a warm welcoming entry with artistic elements sprinkled throughout, including a tall curtain wall at the entrance and integrated planters. One of the most eye-catching features is a sculpture of a colossal, whimsical fork that energetically encourages exploration of its surrounding outdoor and indoor spaces.
The first impression that is given by the renderings of the children’s section is one that says go discover its cheerful activity area or lounge and read in the concave fruit-shaped seats in the wall. A combination of brightly colored pieces and natural wood furnishings give the children’s section a care-free vibe. An exterior glass wall, coupled with a jolt of functional interior wall seating, really enhances its modern edge.
In addition to the children and teen areas, an expansive storytime room that seats a crowd of up to 100 people will serve as a dedicated space for school-age children and their families to congregate.
At one corner of the library, the demonstration kitchen will feature a prominent island counter for culinary presentations. Streamlined tables and wooden kitchen stools will occupy a generous portion of the room, according to the renderings. Although two of four walls will be glass and reduce the need for artificial lighting, pendant-style light fixtures will provide additional illumination and create an aesthetically pleasing space.
Hints of green, from either artificial or potted plants, throughout the library, will complement the culinary-inspired style of the library. Designed to serve as an enjoyable destination, the center will have comfortable chairs and ottomans. Like all other new MCPL buildings and remodeled libraries, the furnishings will be “modern and comfortable so folks can sit and work comfortably for extended periods of time,” says Jake Wimmer, MCPL’s capital improvement project manager.
For accommodating a large indoor gathering, the library will have a community programming room that seats a crowd of around 200 people.
The library branch replacement was made possible when voters passed Proposition L, an eight-cent operating tax levy in November of 2016.
In addition to the new center, nearly every branch in the entire Mid-Continent Public Library System has been renovated, remodeled, or replaced. The 56-year-old library system is focused on adding more intentional spaces and improving accessibility of technology.
Wimmer confirmed the construction of the library has been impacted by supply chain problems that have caused delays and shortages across the country. Largely the materials used in the library’s construction, like structural steel post and beam construction with metal stub infill, are locally sourced or locally manufactured, added Wimmer. Additionally, the recent increase in construction costs has also affected construction.
“There have been challenges, but thankfully the plan put in place and executed by our team has allowed for maximum use of the funds made available through Proposition L for the Capital Improvement Plan,” said Wimmer.
Becky Richardson, manager of the Boardwalk Branch and future manager of the Green Hills Library Center, says: “Recently we measured the collection inside the Boardwalk Branch to be approximately 5,280 ft long, that is nearly one mile worth of books, videos, CDs, and more. As the MCPL collection floats around the system, we cannot be exactly sure what the contents inside the Green Hills Library Center will be, but anticipate the Green Hills location will have a collection size similar to what is currently inside Boardwalk.”