Ogden library overhaul nearing end, public opening not expected until March

Wednesday , November 15, 2017 - 5:15 AM5 comments

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The queries never seem to let up, says Weber County Library System Executive Director Lynnda Wangsgard.

“People are calling and wondering when it will be open,” she says.

Her answer, though, probably isn’t very satisfying. “It’s still going to be a while,” she tells them.

The reconstruction of the system’s main library at 2464 Jefferson Ave. in Ogden — closed since Nov. 11, 2016 — has progressed without any major hitches, according to Wangsgard, and the heavy work should be largely done by mid-December. It won’t open to the public until around March to permit additional interior work, however, and the library official, though pleased with the progress, is getting anxious, sympathetic to the clamoring.

“Now we just need to get it going so people can get in and take advantage of it,” she said.

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The system’s main library here is receiving a massive $17 million facelift, thanks to a $45 million bond issue that voters approved in 2013. As the work winds down, library board members last week toured the facility, fenced off for now, getting a glimpse of where things stand.

“It’s going to be so much brighter,” said Sam Hammack, a project consultant with Salt Lake City-based EDA Architects, which is assisting in the work. Though the layout on the main and upper floors largely will remain the same, he added, the lower level has been opened up and will give patrons much more space.

The North Branch library in North Ogden, first opened in 1983, is the focus of an ongoing $6 million upgrade. The library officials also visited that facility, which closed to the public last April to permit the work and is expected to reopen next May.

“It won’t even be recognizable,” said Wangsgard, alluding to the massive changes taking place. “The whole configuration is different.”

Crews gutted the main level of the North Branch and the lower level will be more fully developed and opened to the public for the first time, with more space geared to children and teens. A skylight will allow more natural light inside.

“I really don’t think people will be able to envision what it used to look like when they walk in the front door,” she said.

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Space, lighting, sunken plaza

The three-level main library in Ogden’s center, built in 1968, is the centerpiece of the Weber County library system. Library board members and others soaked in the changes during their tour of the structure.

“I always thought this was one of the most beautiful buildings in Northern Utah,” Wangsgard said.

Among the changes in store:

Lower level: The lower level, which mostly had been closed to the public, is being completely revamped and opened, with the removal of administrative functions and mechanical operations. Some administrative operations have moved to the Southwest Branch in Roy, rebuilt and enlarged previously with some $20.5 million in bond funds.

The changes in the lower level will help boost the area available to the public in the facility from 30,000 square feet to 39,000 square feet, according to Hammack. A teen center, computers and auditorium accommodating 100 or so people will be housed in the space, among other things.

“It will be leaps and bounds ahead of what it was,” said Kevin Wilson, property project manager for the Weber County Library System.

Lighting: LED lighting is being installed throughout, which will brighten up the facility.

“It was kind of a dark feel,” Hammack said.

The LED lighting will better “flood” the library, and also lower the electricity bill. Particularly in winter, the library “always had a dim feeling. It was not vibrant,” Wangsgard said.

Sculpture: One of the most visible additions on entering the library will be a massive sculpture, three heavy beams that will extend from the upper level down to the main one through the atrium in the center of the structure.

The design is “timeless,” said Gary Vlasic, an artist and designer with V. Project of Salt Lake City who helped design the work. “You don’t want to do something too tricky that in 10 years would be dated,” he said.

A chandelier had been envisioned in the space when the building was originally built, but it was never installed.

The configuration on the main and upper levels, while also getting a facelift, will remain the same, for the most part. A new cafe is planned for the main level, though, as well as a revamped common area.

Outdoor plaza: A new entry is taking shape on the eastern side of the library, facing Lester Park. In the area outside the doors, an enclosed, sunken plaza is to be developed, a potential focal point for outdoor library activities or performances, even.

“It was just kind of grass. It wasn’t program area,” Hammack said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, Follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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