Blythewood library renovation gets equestrian inspiration

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Architects working on Richland Library’s Blythewood branch are tapping into the communities equestrian tradition to redesign the building.

“We’re nodding to the past,” said Angie Brose, project architect with Charleston-based Liollio Architecture.

Richland Library unveiled plans Thursday night for the renovation that include contemporary furnishings and earth tone colors.

The branch will be expanded by nearly 2,000 square feet into the adjacent lawn area. That added space will include a meeting room and Richland Library’s signature “maker space,” which will allow people to do crafts, art and digital printing.

Richland Library spokesperson Emily Stoll said the maker spaces will be featured in every library and are designed to be flexible to adjust to the future needs of library patrons.

“So it can be used for teens today, but 10 years later it could be a job center,” she said.

Brose said patrons can expect a herringbone patterned carpet, weathered wood and stone accents, as well as a proposal to facade painted in a light gray or white to reflect a covered barn.

“If you think of an equestrian stable, they’re usually more elegant,” she said.

Brose said the design pays special attention to the needs of children and families with a dedicated children’s room complete with plush seating, rolling seats, a nook for reading and a Lego wall where kids can assemble the plastic bricks directly on the wall.

A family restroom and nursing room for mothers round out the space.

A rendering of the finished renovation. (photo by Kelly Petty)

A rendering of the finished renovation (photo by Kelly Petty)

Not to be outdone by the children, Brose said her team is looking to add a large size Scrabble board on one wall in the library for folks who want to play the word game.

“Part of what the library is about is that it’s a place for activities,” she said. “So people can hang out more and not just come back in and get their books.”

The new library also will include a large covered porch with rocking chairs that look out to the park, as well as added parking.

[cp_quote style=”quote_right_dark”]“We’ve come a long way. And certainly the library system has grown and the community’s grown.” – Frankie Mclean[/cp_quote]

“You want to provide new space, new furniture, new rooms, but you don’t want to lose too much collection,” Brose said. “We’re working with the library on balancing that so it’s more open but you still have your books in this branch.”

Space is a primary issue for the Blythewood branch. With a large tables in the middle of the room and computer stations, it can be difficult to find quiet spaces to read a book.

“Currently, we’re one big open space and we have a lot of children’s programs,” said branch Manager Shirley Carter. “With the meeting space we’ll have a place where we can be noisy, have fun and not disturb the other customers that are trying to concentrate on their work.”

Carter said the added space also will allow the branch to expand its activities to include needlework, floral arranging and cooking.

“We want it to be a space where the people of the community can gather,” she said.

Stoll said the Blythewood branch project will cost $2 million, which will be paid for by the 2013 bond referendum. Richland Library’s Board of Trustees are expected to start the bid process for construction soon to finish the renovation by 2017, according to Stoll.

Residents who came out to see the plans said they think the project fits the growth occurring in the town.

“This is situated in the heart of Blythewood. You can’t miss it,” said June Smith, a retired librarian who worked at the branch.

Frankie Mclean said she remembered in the 1970s when the library was just a bookmobile parked out in downtown Blythewood once a week.

“We’ve come a long way,” she said. “And certainly the library system has grown and the community’s grown.”

Both women said the renovations represent a good use of taxpayer dollars.

“It’s a benefit to Blythewood. It’s a benefit to the children in the community, and the love of reading needs to start while they’re young,” Mclean said. “And if you don’t have libraries to facilitate that, we’ve lost something.”

Categories: Hometown, Richland County