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East County Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2020 1 year ago

Bradenton's Braden River Library expansion construction to begin before 2021

$2 million expansion project centers around a revamped young adult section
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Teens and young adults are about to have more reasons to visit the Braden River Library.

A $2 million expansion, targeted for completion in September, 2021, will include a new young adult section that will include a "makerspace."

“A makerspace is like a creative lab,” Branch Manager Cathy Laird said. “It's a place where we'll have craft equipment, robotic equipment, and lots of interesting things people can use to (be creative)."

While Laird said the space will be open to all ages, she said it will be particularly attractive to young adults.

The expansion also will include a meeting room and four additional study rooms.

Cathy Laird, branch manager of the Braden River Library, stands on the ground where the expansion project will take place. The project is expected to be completed by Sept. 2021.

When the young adult section moves to the expansion, the existing young adult section will be converted to another use. The library is still undecided on what that might be. One idea would be to transform the area to a casual reading room with newspapers and magazines.

Laird said the magazines and newspaper currently are offered in a high-traffic area that isn't "a very peaceful place to sit and read.”

Laird said the new study and meeting rooms will increase the amount of in-person programs the library can offer to the community after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County's information outreach manager, said the design and construction teams are trying to plan the expansion in a manner that will prevent any closures of the entire building. After construction begins by mid-December, there will be times when certain sections of the library are closed due to construction. Azzara said specific dates on those closures are forthcoming.

In advance of those closures, Laird said the library will select a sample of books and other materials from the closed sections and place them in an open wing of the building. Librarians will likely not be able to access sections that are under construction. As usual, readers will be able to place a book on hold from a different branch and pick it up at Braden River Library.

Laird said the library had been applying to the state for construction funding, which the county would’ve matched, for two or three years. But state funding for library construction hasn't been available the last several years. In 2019, Manatee County decided to stop waiting and pay the full cost.

Laird said the Braden River Library, which opened in 1991, has been a busy branch for 20 years. Laird said the library’s staff has wanted to expand and create an extra meeting room for the past 15 years now.

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Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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