A new chapter: Noblesville library revamps front entrance, lobby area for patrons as work continues


Visitors to the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville can expect to see a new look once they step inside the front entrance doors leading to a lobby area with enhanced lighting as part of more than $16 million in improvements that are still continuing.

The project at the Noblesville branch had been a focus for the library system for more than four years after officials did a facilities assessment of its branches in Noblesville and Fishers, which is also undergoing a major renovation, said Edra Waterman, library director.

From left, Hamilton East Public Library Deputy Directors Kathryn Lorton and John Helling and Library Director Edra Waterman pause on the staircase inside the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville.

“We looked at that with an eye toward, ‘What do we need to do to future proof the buildings?,’’” Waterman said.

The assessment looked at every aspect of each building before a list was made prioritizing improvements that were sought, including infrastructure work, but also accessibility as well, according to Waterman. That also involved determining what was difficult about coming to the library and how officials could maximize outdoor spaces for patrons in order so they could be used more effectively, she added.

Construction on the project began in the summer of 2021. The new look should prove to be more welcoming for patrons, according to Waterman, who described the previous look as very dark. She added that the parking lot configuration was difficult to navigate for patrons leading to the front door.

“Not only have we made the front entrance more open and welcoming, we’ve also created paths from parking to the front entrance,” she said. “That was important to us.”

In Fishers, work is also continuing at that branch as part of a focus on accessibility as well that will also double the amount of parking spaces when completed. Officials hope to have the north entrance of the Fishers branch targeted for completion by the summer.

The improvements being made at each branch will cost $16.1 million apiece. While the front entrance and parking lot improvements have been completed at the Noblesville branch, work will continue for the next year on the second floor of the building in a space described as the Crossroads Discovery Center.

“Our goal with the Crossroads Discovery Center is to bring together all the stakeholders in our community around local history and genealogy and really shine a light on all the wonderful history that we have here in Hamilton County (and) provide a component of experimental learning,” Waterman said.

Waterman said when the center is completed, she hopes the public will be able to see a visual timeline of the county in a hands-on way while continuing work such as genealogy that has been traditionally done in the library’s Indiana Room. Staff is still available for any resources tied to the Indiana Room that may be needed while the center is under construction, she added.

Although work forced the closure of the library’s front doors, Waterman said library officials remained committed to being open for the public as the project progressed.

“We know how important the library is for people and we wanted to make sure we could provide resources and services, so with the new entrance, it’s getting a lot easier for people to park and get into the library,” she said. “The thing that I find the most gratifying through this entire process is going to be the feeling that people will get when they walk in our front doors … and I think our new entrance reflects better the level of service and the type of library that we are.”

The improvements are also a plus for the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce, which has moved back into its space on the bottom floor of the building, said Bob Dubois, president and CEO of the chamber. DuBois said the improved chamber space will also be beneficial for gathering space and meetings that take place in the community, especially as it works with entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“This space allows us to do some small business training,” he said.

The organization had been working in the genealogy room on the second floor of the building for the past 20 months as renovation work took place, but noted the changes will be a plus for the chamber and the community as a whole.

“It was an accommodation we needed to make, but it was well worth it,” he said.

An exterior view of the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville. The library recently completed improvements to its parking lot and front entrance at the building, while work is ongoing on the second floor in a space known as the Crossroads Discovery Center. (Photos by Adam Seif)

By the numbers

  • 2021: Year that construction began at the Noblesville library branch
  • $32.2: Total dollar amount for improvements being made at Fishers, Noblesville locations
  • $16.1: Total cost of renovation work at Noblesville branch
  • 2: Number of branches within Hamilton East Public Library system