West Lafayette Public Library

The second floor of the West Lafayette Public Library, with study tables peppered throughout the room. 

An $11 million project to upgrade and improve the West Lafayette Public Library — including a new entrance and outdoor area — is set to begin in summer 2020, announced at Monday’s West Lafayette city council meeting.

Local growth in the area and increased library usage, coupled with necessary maintenance upgrades, prompted the upgrade, according to the proposal for the project.

“The building and grounds were well-built in 2003 ... and we recognize the need to repair and replace some elements of the building and streetscape 15-plus years later,” Nick Schenkel, director of the library, said.

A facility study of the building helped identify various improvements for the library. The library wants to improve the local history and archive areas, expand programs spaces and increase collaborative learning spaces as well as children and teen areas within the library.

The library also aims to develop the outdoor “hardscape,” which is located off the Northwestern Avenue side of the building. The plan is meant to better fit the city’s plans for festivals and daily use, the project concept said.

“We would love to redevelop the streetscape to make it more attractive for the uses that the village is now seeing,” Schenkel said.

A feasibility study conducted by Caring Architects identified over $11 million in “potential project options and scope,” according to the project concept.

Caring Architects contacted library staff, community members and the students at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School, according to Schenkel.

In addition to the upgrades to the building, the project will improve the parking garage across the street.

“The project will call, I think, for some improvements to the garage — improvements in lighting, improvements in signage, that sort of thing,” Schenkel said.

Schenkel also mentioned that while they currently have a part-time staffer working at the garage, they hope “to install a parking control system that would give us much more robust control over use of the parking by the community.”

The parking, Schenkel noted, is meant for library patrons first, “and then other residents and other members of the community are welcome to use it.”

The plan also highlights that the project does not include the raising of property taxes to fund the project and that the library board determined it will keep the project under the $11 million mark. Around $3 million is associated with maintenance costs to the building and systems.

The plan expects the construction of the project to begin in the late summer 2020 and be completed in spring 2022.

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