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Sneak Peek Reveals New Annapolis Library a Real Page-turner

Though permitting issues delayed its groundbreaking and a bit of political drama slowed its official naming, the much-anticipated new Annapolis Library on West Street is expected to open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 29.

While the public will get its first chance to see and learn about all that the facility offers during an all-ages Community Day on May 2, Chesapeake Family was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour of a building that, according to Skip Auld, Anne Arundel County Public Library CEO, “truly demonstrates the changing nature of how people use libraries.”

“Libraries have a history going back many centuries as a storehouse for books, with the emphasis on preservation rather than use,” Auld says. “However, in our modern era libraries have become places that function to serve ever-changing community needs, and every square foot of the new Annapolis Library is devoted to doing so.”
Here are just a few of the features that will help the $24,342,541 facility meet this mission:

Its Size
The library is roughly 1.5 times as large as its predecessor in terms of square footage (32,500 square feet), but it feels larger thanks to high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the open floor plan with tons of natural light. In terms of contents, it will house approximately 60,000 print books as well as hundreds of magazines, newspapers, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, Launchpads, and Playaways.

The big step up in size is a necessity. Christine Feldmann, Anne Arundel County Public Libraries’ marketing and communications director, expects the new library to inspire plenty of new card signups and to welcome roughly 1,500 visitors a day (up from the old library’s average of 1,000).

Its Awesome Design
Along with many modern, unique elements such as an exposed-wood ceiling and multi-colored shapes embedded in the floor, the library will incorporate regionally inspired features such as a “river” of blue stone embedded in the main sidewalk, a large wall panel depicting George Washington resigning as General in the State Capitol and a huge digitized map of the entire Chesapeake Bay region.

Meeting Spaces
In an effort to make the library a true “community hub,” it contains a 3,000 square-foot, subdividable meeting room that can host nearly 400 people for everything from business meetings to movie nights and yoga; two smaller private meeting rooms, complete with snazzy glass whiteboards for things like entrepreneurial brainstorming or SAT prep sessions; and five more collaboration spaces.

Age- & Service-Specific Areashigh ceilings facing West

Seeking to provide “pathways for all members of the community,” the library contains:

  • A “babies in bloom” section, where toddlers can crawl around and engage in fun programs such as kindergarten readiness.
  • A large indoor children’s space where kids can experience programs and activities from the compass carpet in front of the Discovery Dock—a staging area that Rudy Rodela, chief of support services, names as his most favorite place. There is also a fenced-in outdoor turf area where they can play.
  • The Teen Zone, where pre-teens and teens can hang out, mess around, “geek out,” study, and pursue college prep.
  • The Tech Zone, where 32 public computer stations (laptop checkout will also be coming!) will support research, professional development, and career advancement.
  • A Tinker/Maker Space where people of all ages can learn about, explore, and practice all-things STEM by using high-tech tools and toys including sewing and coding equipment, a 3D printer, VHS-to-DVD and Vinyl-to-USB converters, and a LEGO wall.
  • The Gold Star Collection, a well-protected yet accessible collection of books and materials, some rare or one-of-a-kind, pertaining to Maryland history.
  • A Vending Café where visitors will be able to not only purchase from vending machines but also prepare their own snacks or warm up their own coffee or tea.
  • BIG men’s and women’s restrooms, plus a family restroom and nursing room to boot.

All this, plus the new library is LEED-certified thanks to jaw-dropping elements such as its electrochromic glass windows that change from transparent to translucent in response to voltage, light, or heat; two geothermal heaters; and likely installation of solar panels in the future.

“Bringing this library to life has been a labor of love for everyone involved, from the architect to the interior designers to the library staff,” Rodela says. “It’s also been very special to see the community’s interest and excitement grow, and we can’t wait for it to see and enjoy this truly spectacular place.”

To stay up-to-date on the ribbon cutting and Community Day, see a full album of construction photos, or take a virtual tour of the library, visit aacpl.net/new-annapolis.

—Steve Adams


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