Community unites for Bay Village library opening

An aerial photo of Cuyahoga County Public Library's new Bay Village branch. The architectural design is reflective of residents' input with a nod to the character of Bay Village historical buildings. Photo by Bill Davis

The culmination of six years of discussions, several public input sessions, two architectural plans and 14 months of construction was unveiled at the grand opening of the new Bay Village Branch Library building on April 30.

A throng of area residents came out to celebrate the occasion, which featured remarks from Cuyahoga County Public Library executive director Tracy Strobel, Mayor Paul Koomar, County Councilmember Nan Baker, State Rep. Monique Smith, State Sen. Matt Dolan, a representative from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office, and CCPL board president Dean DePiero. An estimated 2,900 people toured the building after the speeches and a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

Though only 3,000 square feet larger than the old branch, the 17,000-square-foot facility features a number of improvements, and was designed with the future in mind. As reading habits change, libraries seek to move beyond being a simple repository of books and periodicals, to become integrated in civic life.

The new building features a “maker space” with 3D printers, embroidery and engraving machines, and computers with advanced software. There are reading nooks and fireplaces, meeting rooms, a rooftop patio and a large space dedicated to activities for children and teens.

“The space lends itself to people coming together – whether it be for playtime, storytime, a meeting, just to spend time with friends and neighbors. It’s really a community uniter,” branch manager Jessica Breslin told the Observer.

“We’re so much beyond the books that we have,” she continued. “We have this irresistible collection, but on top of that, there’s space for people, there’s space for quiet reflection, there’s space for activities, there’s space for socializing and there’s space for enjoying the beauty of the natural resources in Cahoon Park.”

The construction of the facility itself was designed to adapt to changing needs.

“New building technology has allowed us to use a raised flooring system ... the heating and cooling is all running underfoot,” Strobel explained at a library preview on April 29. “There’s a two-foot plenum, or vacant space, for all heating and cooling, as well as power and data.”

The raised flooring system is covered in removable tiles and carpet squares, allowing for a flexible floor plan that doesn’t require ducts, vents and outlets to be moved as the layout is changed.

The library’s location in the heart of town makes it the linchpin in the city’s development plans.

“It’s a fabulous addition for the Bay Village town center,” Mayor Koomar said. “It fits in well with our master plan that we developed back in 2017 and it will be an anchor between our commercial district and the park improvements we’re making to the lakefront.”

The newest of CCPL’s 27 branches, board president DePiero pointed out that this is the only building with a view of the lake.

Despite all of the changes and upgrades, Strobel stressed that one important constant would remain.

“It’s the same friendly faces, the same helpful staff dedicated to serving,” she said. “You can have a beautiful building but it’s not a great library without the people.”

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:45 AM, 05.03.2022