WARREN – Ground was broken Thursday afternoon at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, marking the start of an 18-month addition and renovation project at the system’s main branch.
Construction of a 14,800-square foot, one-story addition to the southwest corner of the branch on Mahoning Avenue is estimated to cost around $7 million, said director and fiscal officer James Wilkins. He estimates about 80% of the project’s $4.74 million price tag is for the new addition, while the remaining part accounts for renovations.
Brookfield-based VendRick Construction Inc. and the architecture firm Baker Bednar Snyder & Associates Inc. of Warren are joining forces on the project.
The library’s teen area will be expanded to four times its current size with plenty of reading room spaces, a multipurpose room and two to three tutoring rooms, while the children’s area will have triple the space with meeting rooms and an expandable programming room, Wilkins said. The library’s meeting spaces will also be enlarged. New carpeting, shelving, overhead lighting and a fire sprinkler system are also part of the renovations.
The expansion and renovation project is funded through a 0.4 mil levy passed in 2019 and the purchase of municipal bonds, Wilkins said. Part of the levy will be used to pay off bonds over the next 30 years. He’s also “toying with the idea of selling naming rights to some of the community rooms and so forth, but that hasn’t been finalized yet.”
“We’re expecting this to be a 30- to 40-year investment in the city of Warren and Trumbull County,” he said. “Return on investments for libraries in Ohio is about $10 for every dollar we spend back to the community annually … It’s a good investment for everybody.”
This project started with a study about a decade ago that found the children and teen areas were too small, Wilkins said. Soon after, the library bought property adjacent to the branch with the intent of expansion.
The expansion is an opportunity for community members to come and talk with one another – at the Warren branch, said board president Melissa Lattanzi.
“The library is not just online and it’s just not just a home for books,” she said. “It’s a place to learn. There’s programming. There’s exciting authors. There are different programs for different ages. There’s something here for everyone at the library.”
Because of the pandemic, though, some services have been reduced. The Warren branch now offers just six public computers, down from 24. Community members use this technology and the library’s Wi-Fi system, so adding those computers back once the renovations are complete is vital.
“A lot of the area here is underserved as far as broadband, so we do our best to fill that by having computers available,” Wilkins said.
The construction is slated to be finished in 18 months, but Wilkins hopes it will be done sooner. VendRick is going to aggressively work on this project.
“With weather and supply issues, we’re telling everybody 18 months [and] hoping for the best,” he said.
Pictured: A rendering of the library shows the expansion on the building’s southwest side.