Big changes are coming to the Carmel Clay Public Library.
The library is planning a nearly $40 million expansion that will include more space for programs, a parking garage and several other upgrades. Design work is expected to be complete in early 2020, with construction beginning in the second half of the year. The duration of the project will depend on whether a temporary library location can be found.
CCPL Director Bob Swanay said if the library can temporarily relocate, the project could be complete in two years. If that doesn’t happen, he said he doesn’t know how long the project will last.
“If we don’t (find a location), it’s going to take longer to get this done and it’s going to be disruptive to be here throughout construction,” he said. “We’re not just adding on to the building, we’re renovating a lot of the interior of the library.”
Swanay said the library is looking for a space to lease in central Carmel. Whether or not relocation happens, the library’s goal is to offer continual service throughout the project.
One reason the library is looking to temporarily relocate is because construction is expected to occur at the same time Carmel Clay Schools builds a new Carmel Elementary facility just south of the library. Swanay said CCPL has worked closely with CCS to coordinate the projects.
The library expansion is expected to add between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet to the library’s 116,000-foot building, which was constructed in 1999.
“(The building) is holding up remarkably well. The library has done a great job over the years of keeping the building well maintained,” Swanay said. “One thing we hope to achieve is to make it a much more sustainable building and reduce energy usage. We’re looking for opportunities to modernize the building.”
Look for project updates at carmel.lib.in.us/nextchapter.
One of the biggest changes planned is an expansion of the space for library programs. The existing program room can hold approximately 100 people, but the proposed one will be able to fit 400 people and have the option of being divided into two rooms.
Swanay said in 2018, CCPL presented approximately 2,200 programs with 80,000 people in attendance.
“That’s a really huge number considering we don’t have capacity to hold large crowds,” he said.
The purpose of the renovation is to create versatile spaces that range from individual study rooms to the large program room.
The library, which sits between Carmel Elementary and Carmel High School, also is planning to at least quadruple its teen space.
“We’re leaning into the fact we’re on campus with Carmel High School. We think of the library as being on an educational campus,” Swanay said. “It was really visionary of the library to create a teen space in the ‘90s, but now we think we can do something far and away superior in almost every respect.”
The new teen space is expected to move from the second to the first floor of the building.
Front entrance could move
Plans include moving the library entrance to Main Street. Currently, the main entrance is on the west side of the building facing 4th Ave. SE, and many patrons enter smaller doors on the south side of the building near the parking lot.
“Even from Main Street, some people aren’t clear that this is the library,” Swanay said. “One of our goals is to connect with the Arts & Design District. We think by moving the front of the library to be Main Street-facing, it’s a much more clear connection.”
The expansion may also include expanding the building north toward Main Street. The reconfiguration is expected to provide a better space for the library to hold events outdoors.
The library has more than doubled the number of materials checked out and programs held since opening 20 years ago, and the existing parking lot is not built to handle that amount of traffic.
The project will include a 235-space parking garage on the west half of the existing lot south of the library, and 90 surface parking spots will remain available to the east. The library also will maintain its 106-spot parking lot west of 4th Ave SE, bringing the total number of parking spots to 435. Currently, 300 spots are available.
Digital Media Lab
The library opened the Digital Media Lab on Main Street in 2016, but when renovations are complete, it’s expected to move to the main building.
Swanay said the new building will provide more space for the lab, which provides a free space and equipment for cardholders to work on digital creations. The new lab is expected to contain additional recording booths and a video editing booth, a feature not available in the current lab.
“This is going to take the concept and push it to a next-generation level,” Swanay said. “We’re going to be able to do more by having it back in the library.”
West branch to open Jan. 6
The Carmel Clay Public Library will open the Joyce Winner West Branch at 12770 Horseferry Rd. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Jan. 6. The 5,000-square-foot building in the Village of WestClay will loan books and movies and have gathering spaces and a drive-up materials return. Patrons can place a hold on materials at the main library and pick them up at the new branch.
Regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“This is a great time for us to be opening our first branch since we’ll be going through (renovations at the main building),” CCPL Director Bob Swanay said. “It’s a wonderful time to extend our footprint.”