Next Gulf Gate Library open house set for Aug. 29

A Harvard Jolly Architecture firm rendering shows the exterior of the new Gulf Gate Library. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County staff is continuing to seek a temporary location for the Gulf Gate Library before construction of the new facility gets under way in early 2013, Project Manager Carolyn Eastwood told the County Commission during its Aug. 20 budget workshop.

In the meantime, Eastwood said, a fourth public meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 29, to allow the public to see the preliminary designs that have been completed, as well as the building materials and finishes that have been selected.

The open-house style meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota.

No formal presentation will be provided, a county news release says.

The new, two-story library, which will be about 25,000 square feet, will replace the 17,000-square-foot library on the same site, at 7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota.

Eastwood reminded the commissioners they last had discussed the project on June 26, when they gave it a go-ahead.

Plans call for the design to be completed in December, she said, with construction to get under way in February 2013; a ribbon-cutting is planned for April 2014.

Although a discussion during the July meeting of the Sarasota County Planning Board raised the issue of whether the new library would needed as much physical space as the design includes — given rapid changes in technology, such as more demand for digital books — the commissioners did not pose any questions about that during the budget workshop.

On Aug. 3, Commissioner Nora Patterson had forwarded to Sarabeth Kalajian, the county’s general manager of libraries, an email from a resident referencing the Planning Commission meeting comments.

Kalajian responded that she had invited the resident to call her “for a discussion of the plans for the new Gulf Gate Library including technological advances to benefit library users as well as to increase staff efficiency.”

Kalajian and library board members have told this reporter on numerous occasions that the library is very popular with residents, including neighborhood teenagers.

During her Aug. 20 remarks, Eastwood mentioned not only the planned drive-through drop-off feature for library patrons and the automated materials check-in and sorting systems, but also the inclusion of meeting rooms in the design, saying they are in great demand by library users.