Changes are coming to Tulsa's Central Library. The building is outdated, but the collection, even in the digital age, is still in high demand. There's a new plan to rebuild Central, to take advantage of what's there and improve on it.
A talented quartet performed Wednesday at Central Library, attracting a small but appreciative audience. Elsewhere in the building, people searched for jobs online, some searched the stacks, and a school group visited the children's area. There's probably nowhere else in Tulsa where all those things could happen at once, except Central Library.
That's part of the reason why, at 48 years old, it's still the biggest and most visited branch in the county.
"It's a great place and people are using it every day," said Tulsa City-County Library CEO Gary Shaffer.
But Central is showing it's age. It's never had a substantial remodel. Much of the building's mechanical side is original, inefficient and expensive to maintain.
Shaffer is leading the effort to build a new vision for Central, one that involves gutting the interior and rebuilding it with updated spaces to meet modern needs.
The job would take more than two years. The inside would be more open, with more space for meeting. "Collaborating and creating" is what the library wants to encourage.
The plan for the exterior is a new single entrance facing what's going to be a redesigned 5th Street. It's going to replace the current courthouse plaza.
"It's really going to give the library a great front door. Right now, we have many entrances and need a front door. Right now, when people visit,- they wonder, ‘How do I get in there?'" Shaffer said.
The plan is estimated to cost $48 million, most of which the library hopes to raise privately, to match any public dollars.
In addition to the renovation, the library hopes to add a new parking garage and outdoor space for children. Shaffer said it's what Central needs to remain relevant and take advantage of the new interest in downtown.
"We're really right in the center and the middle of everything that's happening," Shaffer said.
During the renovation, Central would close and a temporary branch would open at 11th and Denver, in September.
There's a public meeting at the library on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6 p.m. to discuss the full plan.