The Lexington Public Library will open a new branch at Man o' War Boulevard and Palumbo Drive and close its nearby Eagle Creek branch.
The new library branch in southeastern Lexington will be a renovation of a building that was used as a Jaguar and Land Rover auto dealership from 2003 to 2008. The library's board of trustees voted Wednesday afternoon to pay nearly $4 million for the property, at 3000 Blake James Drive, and expects to close on the purchase in October.
The new branch is expected to open by May 2015. Board chairman Larry Smith said the Eagle Creek property will be sold.
The Eagle Creek branch library opened in 1992. With 15,000 square feet of space, it was at the time the largest branch in the Lexington system; it is now the second-smallest. But a bustling business district grew up around the library at Eagle Creek Drive and Richmond Road, making negotiating the area difficult for patrons.
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Library executive director Ann Hammond said that the Eagle Creek branch "is very small. There's no room to expand."
For example, the Eagle Creek meeting room has a capacity of only 40 people without tables, too small to hold many community meetings and popular library programs.
Hammond said she is enthusiastic about the opportunities for additional library services at the new branch, with its 27,000-square-foot building. The branch will include a 25 percent increase in the number of books and other materials; multiple meeting rooms and study rooms; and increased parking, from 89 spaces at Eagle Creek to 121 spaces with flexibility for even more spaces.
The new branch will also have something no other Lexington library site now has: drive-through service where customers can both drop-off returns and pick up materials they have placed on hold. Although several of the branches have drop-off returns, no other branch has a drive-through where on-hold items can be checked out.
Hammond said that the new library may house a digital studio and "maker space," where patrons can learn various new skills, both manual and technical.
Smith said the board had its eye on a Hamburg-area site for some time, and this time the deal came together.
The new branch is less than a mile from the Eagle Creek library. Smith said the location is a good one for the library to continue to serve both its Richmond Road-area patrons as well as the burgeoning Hamburg area.
The library system also operates branches at Beaumont Centre, off Tates Creek Road, on Russell Cave Road and on Versailles Road. The Central Library's current building opened on Main Street downtown in 1989.
As far back as 1999, the library's board was discussing how to better serve the booming population around Lexington's Hamburg area, which includes the Andover and Todds Road subdivisions as well as the areas around Richmond Road. Hamburg is soon to be home to a new high school and a recently announced branch of the YMCA of Central Kentucky.