By Tamas Mondovics
Ever since Hillsborough County Commissioners stamped their approved on a $2.6 million expansion project to be done on behalf of the Bloomingdale Regional Library two years ago, patrons and officials, along with the Friends of the Library, have been anxiously waiting for the project to began.
The wait, however, is now over and the facility that has been serving the community since its dedication on February 10, 2005, will begin to undergo its much anticipated expansion in February.
“It is a much-needed expansion that became clearly evident and necessary soon after the library opened,” said veteran librarian, Jean Peters. “We are very excited about the project and to see it finally begin.”
The project stayed on course and will add approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of space to the existing 15,000 sq. ft. library located at 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, just east of Bloomingdale High School.
According to library officials, once completed, the library will sport a new, larger children’s room, additional space for technology and teen activities, an additional, larger community room for library programs and public meetings, increased seating for quiet study as well as a bigger Friends of the Library Book Store just to name a few.
“We are handling close to 60,000 items per month, not to mention the hundreds of programs which welcome approximately 10,000 in attendance,” said Bloomingdale librarian, Eloise Hurst, as she talked about the importance of the expansion. “This number will likely grow again this year.”
With the construction commencing, county officials confirmed that the library will maintain its regular hours of operation throughout the entire project, Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Thursday 12 p.m.–8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sunday 12:30 p.m.–5 p.m.
Library patrons may expect traffic patterns in to, out of, and through the parking lot to be redirected at times to accommodate the various phases of the construction process, which also includes the restriction of some parking spaces for visitors safety.
While interior renovations are made, portions of the library will be partitioned off and some shelving and collections will be relocated also to ensure patron’s safety.
While the drive-up book returns will remain accessible during most of the construction process, some access to the book returns may be restricted during the initial phase of the project when the front portion of the parking lot is closed for installation of new sewer lines.
While construction activities will create a noisier environment than is typical at the library, county and library officials promise that such distractions will be minimized when possible and are counting on the project’s estimated December 2013 completion date.
Neighboring libraries to choose from includes the Brandon Regional Library, located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon as well as the Riverview Branch Library, at 10509 Riverview Drive in Riverview.
The project was designed by Long and Associates, and will be constructed by Walbridge Aldinger Company and it is funded with ad valorem tax dollars provided through the special library taxing district.
For project questions or additional information, visit http://bit.ly/BDLexp or call 635-5400. Additional assistance with library services is available at hcplc.org or by calling 273-3652.