The Public Library to Undergo Renovation While A Downtown Space Takes its Places
It has taken years of pushing, but the Coral Gables Branch Library is finally getting a facelift. Thanks to lobbying efforts started by Commissioner Pat Keon in 2017, the library will get $3 million in county-funded renovations that will include new flooring, furnishings, lighting, painting, wood restoration, wall finishes, acoustical ceilings and restroom improvements. The improvements include infrastructural upgrades as well, like installing impact resistant windows, a new HVAC system and a new roof. There will also be more IT gear, more computers, and more spaces where users can plug in their own computers. “Everything was just quite dated,” said Keon.
The construction is estimated to take 18 months, says Ray Baker, director of the Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS), and was initially delayed because the city needed the old library open as a voting location during the elections. All of the renovations were agreed upon after a series of community meetings at the library. “We have worked closely with the City of Coral Gables, including city officials, the Library Advisory Board, and Historic Preservation Board throughout the conceptual design and permitting for this project,” said Baker.
The Historic Preservation Board was a part of the process because the exterior of the building is considered historic. “The elements that were historic in nature will be preserved through-out the renovation,” said Keon, like the fountains and coral rock. Also to be preserved are the Garden Club’s butterfly garden and the original Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls on display in the library.
While the Branch Library is under renovation, there will be a temporary library at 308 Miracle Mile, next to what used to be California Pizza Kitchen. The MDPLS signed a two-year lease with Terranova Corporation, a major Miracle Mile landlord, for the space. “We wanted to maintain a presence and continue to have library services available to the public during the project,” said Baker, adding that the location was chosen for its visibility, the area’s foot traffic, and the nearby amenities of downtown. “We hope to introduce our services to a lot of new library users while we are there,” he said.
The Coral Gables Branch Library, one of the highest circulating libraries in the system, won’t entirely close until after the municipal elections in April, as it is a polling location. And once the construction is complete, says Keon, “We will have a really beautiful state-of-the-art library.”
There’s another place in the Gables where book lovers can get new titles: Little Free Library is a nonprofit that installs book-sharing boxes around the world. Their mission is to improve literacy rates by increasing access to books. Take a book you want to read or leave a book that you’ve finished and want to share with the world. Thanks to Vice Mayor Vince Lago, there are currently three Little Free Libraries throughout the city at Catalonia, Majorca, and Rotary Centennial parks. To Sponsor a library in your neighborhood park, contact 305.460.5620 or visit littlefreelibrary.org