Thursday, December 11, 2003

Independence library hunts for larger home

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - Limited programming, inadequate shelf space and long lines at computers are just a few reasons why Kenton County's busy Independence branch library is looking for a new home.

After eight years in cramped quarters, the Kenton County Public Library system is looking for a bigger place for fast-growing southern Kenton County. The city of Independence saw its population increase by 44 percent in the 2000 U.S. Census, and neighboring Taylor Mill had 25 percent growth.

"With the way the community is growing, we probably can't build a building large enough on our present site," said Wayne Onkst, director of the Kenton County Public Library system. "We'd like to locate a site and close a deal by next spring."

Planning and construction of the $2.5 million to $3 million branch will take about two years, Onkst said. Proceeds from the sale of the current Independence library, savings and money from the sale of the old Erlanger branch will pay for the branch. Library officials hope to have it open by mid-2006.

Within months of its 1995 opening, the 7,000-square-foot Independence library was too small. Space is expected to get even tighter with the explosive growth projected for the next decade, said branch librarian Moran Tracy.

As a stopgap measure, the Independence branch closed one Friday in October for remodeling.

Eight seats were removed to make room for 14 new sections of shelves for adult fiction, Tracy said. New lighting also was installed.

Six sections of shelving for picture books were added to the children's section, and its walls were repainted. .

To ease the scheduling crunch, a new Independence branch library would include one room for children's activities and a separate meeting room for adult and family programs, Tracy said. The library branch also hopes to add a computer lab, so that staff can offer instruction and ease long lines at computers in the afternoons and evenings.


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