September 2, 2014

Temporary site chosen for downtown Arlington library

After renovations are complete, a limited selection of books, movies, audiobooks and children’s books, plus computer terminals, will be available on North Cooper Street.

The Central Library could be closed by the end of the year, but residents will be able to check out books and movies and access public computers while a new downtown library is being built.

The Arlington City Council learned Tuesday that a temporary location will open at the former Water Utilities North Service Center, 200 N. Cooper St., between Division and Main streets.

“It was really important to us to stay in the downtown area,” Libraries Director Cary Siegfried said.

The timing of the library’s relocation depends on the schedule of the private developers, Atlanta-based Integral Development and Dallas-based Catalyst Development.

The developers plan to tear down the 40-year-old George W. Hawkes Central Library next year to make way for a $29 million mixed-use development. In turn, Arlington will build a $25 million downtown library on public land north of City Hall within two years.

During the transition, library patrons can browse a limited selection of new fiction and nonfiction books, movies, audiobooks and children’s books at the Water Utilities site, Siegfried said.

Patrons can also request items from the Central Library’s collection, most of which will be stored in a climate-controlled warehouse, for pickup at the temporary site or any branch.

The library has not found suitable warehouse space but expects to secure a location soon, Siegfried said.

Arlington had considered the Meadowbrook Recreation Center as a temporary site, Siegfried said. But that building has air-conditioning problems and is located off Abram Street, which will soon be rebuilt.

“We would have been able to take a good deal of our collection there,” Siegfried said. “What tipped the scale for us was that Abram Street will be under construction for the next several years.”

Siegfried said the Water Utilities site on Cooper Street, near the Parks and Recreation Administration Building, will need $30,000 to $45,000 in renovations, including improvements to support 16 to 18 public computers.

The Central Library’s popular genealogy collection is expected to be moved temporarily to the Northeast Branch Library, 1905 Brown Blvd., until the new library opens, Siegfried said.

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