APPLETON (NBC 26) — Appleton residents have eagerly awaited the redevelopment of the Appleton Public Library, and now new plans have been released, raising anticipation for a project that has been on the minds of neighbors for over a year.
The library's temporary setup in an old Best Buy has served its purpose, but the community is ready for something new and exciting.
“The communities changed, the way people use the libraries changed,” said Library Director Colleen Rortvedt.
Rortvedt expressed the desire to capture a sense of wonder and discovery in the new library.
“We want to take that sense of wonder and discovery that you have when you’re wandering the shelves but also use it to have things like programming and the experiences of interacting with other community organizations be a part of that sense of wonder and discovery,” said Rortvedt.
The plans for the Appleton Public Library involve renovating the current building, with a focus on optimizing the second floor. A community room and coworking space will be introduced, providing opportunities for collaboration and engagement.
“We’re taking those community spaces and in addition to having the large one on the second floor you will find other spaces interspersed,” said Rortvedt.
The previous proposal for the project exceeded the budget by $14 million.However, the library team took this setback as an opportunity to reevaluate and refine their plans. This time, they were able to align the project with the given budget of $40.4 million.
“When the bids came in as high as they did, we rejected those bids and sharpened our pencil, went back to work and reduced the scope,” said Rortvedt. “We found ways to incorporate everything into the space just in different ways, so we really lost no functionality.”
Pending the approval of June bids, construction is expected to begin in July.
Lynn Pennings, an Appleton resident, eagerly awaits the library's return to its original location.
“I absolutely love this space. It's working well and the staff is excellent but I'm looking forward to the library being downtown again,” said Pennings.
In the meantime, the temporary library will continue to serve the community, while excitement grows for the new one. The new library will offer nearly 4,000 additional square feet of space, catering to all age groups and providing ample room for meetings and studying needs.