Every day for the past three years, Wade Turner has walked from Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences to the Selby Public Library, where he is president of its Teen Advisory Board.
Past the double doors, to the left, sits the youth library and aquarium. Straight ahead is the young-adult section. And to the right is the audio/visual equipment. There’s just one thing missing — a space designated for teens.
“Why this renovation is important to me,” Turner, 16, said, “is it would be nice to have something separate from the library. Personally, for me, I always wanted to have a little art room to work in.”
In addition to the teen center, Teen Advisory Board members have also requested a computer room, study room, art room and a visual-art studio.
“What we’re hoping to do is not only have all the resources that young folks need for schoolwork and creative pursuits, but have a place where teens can rest, work out a problem, chill and get centered,” said Liz Nolan, library manager.
The Sarasota County Commission awarded two construction contracts totaling about $1.6 million March 29 that will be used to remodel the library and improve Caspersen Beach. Funding for the teen center is provided through a $50,000 grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.
Enclosed behind a glass wall with an open ceiling system and exposed lighting and mechanical work, the center will provide computers, books and other materials to support schoolwork and recreational reading. A large ellipse in the center will drop down from the ceiling.
“We’re calling (the teen center design) ‘cyberpunk,’ because it’s got a lot of industrial materials,” said Todd Sweet, principal at Totem’s Architecture.
The renovation is scheduled to be completed in December. Other renovations for the 13-year-old building include new flooring in the second-floor restroom and carpet in the middle of the rotunda. The chiller system will receive additional equipment to make it run more efficiently.
“What’s really lovely is that we have people who come here from all over the world and told us this is the most beautiful library they’ve ever seen,” Nolan said. “It does our heart good, and for us to have a chance to freshen up is just a delicious opportunity. I’m hoping that when we rededicate it, people will remember why they fell in love with the library in the first place.”
The library is a place where Turner, 16, knows he can sit back and relax, get a head start on homework and hang out with his friends.
Other funding is provided through Surtax III revenue bonds, to be repaid by the infrastructure surtax and library impact fees. DooleyMack Constructors, of Sarasota, was awarded the contract.
The library draws about 2,000 people each day and hosts everything from the Sarasota Reading Festival to art shows.