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The Community Library gives its Ketchum property a major makeover

Extensive renovations throughout The Community Library in Ketchum will include a new east entrance. Image courtesy of The Community Library.

Extensive renovations on The Community Library in Ketchum will include a new east entrance. Image courtesy of The Community Library.

Fluorescent lights will give way to LED lighting as the Community Library in Ketchum sheds its 1970s features in a $10.5 million remodel and expansion.

The privately funded library replaced its original wood shake roof two years ago with triple-thick asphalt shingles. The library also has done away with traditional men’s and women’s restrooms and in 2017 installed six “gender inclusive” single-occupancy restrooms, said Jenny Emery Davidson, the library’s executive director.

The existing entrance at The Ketchum Community Library. Photo courtesy of The Ketchum Community Library.

The existing entrance at The Ketchum Community Library. Photo courtesy of The Ketchum Community Library.

The Community Library this summer will renovate the children’s library and create a new young adult section, and next year the children’s library will be expanded to allow for more programming.

In all, the library will expand by just 2,187 square feet to the existing 27,635 square feet. But the 1977 building will undergo extensive modernization.

“We didn’t need as many outlets in the 1980s,” Davidson said of the era before laptops. “Our library is highly used for meetings. It is absolutely improvising for meetings (in the existing space).”

The renovations will expand the lecture hall from a capacity of 120 to a capacity of 185. Work is just starting to expand into a neighboring room with the larger lecture hall opening in July. Other dedicated meeting spaces will be created, as will quiet nooks for readers, she said. A large fireplace will remain.

The building footprint expansion will largely involve larger lobby areas at both entrances, Davidson said.

The renovations at The Community Library in Ketchum will add courtyards and gardens. Image courtesy of The Community Library.

The renovations at The Community Library in Ketchum will add courtyards and gardens. Image courtesy of The Community Library.

Davidson also wants to take the library outside with a revamp of what she describes as “a bunch of green ground and uneven lawn.” The new exterior design calls for courtyards and gardens with benches for library visitors. This work will be undertaken in the summers of 2018 and 2019, she said.

The renovations began in late 2016 and will continue through 2019. Humphries Poli Architects is the architect. Elias Construction of Ketchum is the general contractor.

Davidson’s goal is to keep the library open throughout.

Along with the roof, the renovations started with the unfinished basement that had been used only for storage. The 3,400-square-foot space now has a climate-controlled archive for the library’s historic archives and materials, and there is meeting space for classes in English as a Second Language.

The renovations also involve seismic work. Concrete footings are being installed under the core of the library to reinforce the structure to seismic standards. About half the work has been completed, she said.

Books will remain, Davidson stressed, but more digital resources will be added.

The Community Library started a $12.5 million capital campaign in November 2016 for the renovation with $2 million for the Hemingway House, which came under library ownership in May 2017. The library has raised $9.7 million.

The private Community Library has hundreds of card holders from several states and countries, Davidson said. It was established in 1955 by 17 women in Ketchum and Sun Valley as a privately funded, privately governed, non-profit cultural organization. From 1957 to 1977, the library occupied a 4,700-square-foot space now occupied by the Gold Mine Thrift Store, which is owned by the library.

The library underwent a 20-year series of expansions after it opened. It doubled in size in 1986, added the lecture hall and audio-visual room in 1989, and built the Children’s Library addition and expanded the reference and regional history areas in 1997, the last time the library was expanded or renovated until now.

 

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.