October 23, 2018
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AACPL Begins Planning Process For New Riviera Beach Branch

Dylan Roche
View Bio
February 20, 2018

Society might not yet be at the point where people are commuting via flying cars or colonizing other planets, but in other ways, the future is here – and many organizations are working to keep up with the changing times. For Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL), that means bigger facilities to meet population growth, more tech amenities, and new products and programs that will appeal to 21st-century patrons. In the case of the Riviera Beach Library, that means starting over from scratch.

“It’s way too small,” Rudy Rodela, AACPL chief of support services, said of the current facility. “We just got through with a facilities master plan study, and one of the things that surprised us is how dense the population is in that area and how much it’s growing.”

But the size of the building isn’t the only drawback. “In addition to space, the building was built back in 1971,” explained Christine Feldmann, marketing and communications manager for AACPL. “We didn’t have the internet and as much technology and dependence on technology, so we need a building that’s going to handle those needs that people have.”

With sights set on completing and opening a new Riviera Beach Library by spring 2021, AACPL has hired architecture firm Grimm + Parker to design the 20,000-square-foot facility that will be built on the current site.

The schematic design – which will entail the general outline and shape of the building, as well as where it will be located on the property – is slated to be finished by this upcoming summer. “After we get input from everyone on the building’s schematic design, they move on to design development, asking, ‘Can we actually build what we think we’re going to build?’” Rodela explained.

“If all that works out, they’ll start working on construction documents,” he continued. “All told, we should have a set of blueprints ready to go to bid sometime in the fall of 2019. Depending on how the bidding goes, construction will probably start in fall 2019 and go through spring 2021. That’s as detailed as we can get right now because all these processes take a lot of time. There’s a lot of homework involved and a lot of people have input into it.”

AACPL held its first public community meeting in December to solicit input from patrons on what priorities they would have for an ideal library. Rodela expects another public meeting will be held in late summer 2018, but in the meantime, patrons are encouraged to send input, questions, suggestions or comments to newriv@aacpl.net.

“It’s a dance between what you want – you want to give the public every possible scenario, program, option – but there’s a limited amount of space, so we have to decide what’s most important,” Feldmann said. “That’s what these discussions are all about.”

Similar to the Annapolis Library, which will begin its rebuild later this year, the new Riviera Beach Library will be geared toward the needs of modern library users, who require access not only to media but also – and perhaps more importantly – to collaboration space. Rodela said people in the modern day “use the library as a community living room,” so they need space for group meetings or individual study. Such changes will ensure that the library stays a viable resource in an era when so much is available from home at the click of a button.

“We want people to come and stay,” Feldmann emphasized, “not just grab their book and go.”

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