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Elyria library system in early stages of fundraising

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ELYRIA — Renovation plans are in the works for both the Elyria Public Library’s Central and West River Road North branches, but the scope of the projects will depend on the raised revenue from a naming opportunities campaign.

Director Lyn Crouse said the library is working to firm up details about the cost and timeline of the project and fundraising efforts have just started. Donors can sponsor such items as the Washington Avenue library’s new Children Department to shelving and display units at both branches.

Crouse touted the renovation plans in the library’s current newsletter.

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The Elyria Public Library Central Branch on Washington Avenue. CHRONICLE FILE

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“As we celebrate the first half of (Central’s) lifespan, we must take note of how libraries have changed in 50 years,” Crouse wrote in her opening letter to the community. “At that time, there were no audio-visual materials, staff or public computers. It was built as a book warehouse with 70,000 titles. Today, it houses 125,000.

“Although our library still has lots of print books and magazines, we also offer downloadable books and magazines, online databases, and streaming audio and video materials,” Crouse wrote. “As our physical collection space needs have changed, so has the demand for accommodating people’s devices — laptops, tablets and smart phones. We also need community space, whether it is for individuals who are studying quietly or job searching, or as a gathering place for meetings and programs for all ages.”

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The Elyria Public Library West River Branch. CHRONICLE FILE

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While the West River branch will see some improvements, most of the projects will be focused at the Central branch, which was built in 1967. In order to open up space at Central, the plan is to relocate the local history and genealogy room from the first floor at Central to the second floor of the West River branch.

That room, although new to the West River branch, will be designed with a more historic feel with architectural elements that recreate the look of Elyria’s first library on Broad Street.

Bookcases will have a century-old design, said library spokesman Adam Matthews. In addition, two new handicap-accessible family restrooms will be added to the second floor of that library.

The Elyria library system offers almost 2,000 programs annually for kids, teens, adults, seniors and families. To provide spaces for as many patrons as possible, interior renovations at Central will include moving the Youth Services Department from the front to the back of the building. This will increase natural light with additional windows and there will be a new family restroom.

A preschool area will be built with a room that will feature a facade that is reminiscent of the wraparound porch from the Dr. Karl Reefy House on Third Street, which became the Elyria library in 1929. Matthews said a lot of historic elements will come into play at both buildings.

The library will also add a baby play and grow area.

The plan at Central also calls for a new gender-neutral family restroom in the adult area, a quiet study area with support for modern devices and a teen tech center, a designated space including computers and space for individual learning, gaming with teen friends and age-appropriate resources and programs.

Crouse said the library is working with Duane VanDyke of Van Dyke Architects. Work could start as this fall.

The library is also working on a plan to expand the Keystone-LaGrange Community Library. There is no timetable to the planned expansion as library officials are seeking community help to raise the expected $1 million to build it. When complete, the plan calls for ADA-compliant family restrooms, designated teen space, a larger children’s room, additional computers, rooms for small group meetings or other programs, as well as functional staff work areas to better serve patrons.

Elyria operates five locations plus a bookmobile throughout the Elyria and Keystone school districts.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.



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