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Looking to future, Sullivan library exploring expansion of its main branch


With times changing — and the last substantial change occurring 25 years ago — the Sullivan County Public Library is seeking improved space utilization at its main branch in Sullivan.

The SCPL have started the process to solicit requests for proposals/qualifications on an expansion project. You can see the legal notice in Thursday’s print edition.

“It’s something we’ve talked about here for a few months now, that we feel we have outgrown the space that the library currently sits on,” SCPL director Jordan Orwig said. “We’re looking into maybe expanding backward a little bit. We’re mostly trying to get ideas.” 

The preliminary plans call for utilizing the annex building located directly behind the main library.

“We have a lot of things we can offer, a lot of needs for different facilities,” Orwig said. “Trying to look to the future and see what basic ways we can better serve Sullivan County.”

The SCPL has identified several upgrades on its wish list at its current location.

“Meeting rooms especially is something we get a lot of use over here,” Orwig said. “A lot of requests for some dedicated programming space, maybe even a computer lab.” 

But Orwig cautioned, at this time, any plans are still in the formative stage, even subject to change.

“I say these things, but then we could come back six months down the road when we get into it and maybe change our mind,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone here, we’re just taking our first steps in getting ideas and figuring out how we want to go about it.”

Orwig explained the options include either renovating the current building or knocking it down, with the goal of expanding the library back to the west. 

The RFPQ process is a means to identify a partner to design, obtain financing and construct the library expansion project.

“As I understand it, the request for proposal, we will look for any interested companies we can partner with to come in and, sort of, plan alongside with us,” Orwig explained. “They can organize a lot of the funding and financing and we kind of just go alongside with that.

“It’s a process that we had heard about locally and people from (the state of) Indiana who have taken on larger projects like this. It’s just one method of doing it. It seemed to fit for what we were looking to do. But we’ll see.”

In developing a timeline, the first step is the RFPQ with proposals due by Oct. 11 at noon.

“Hopefully we can get proposals in the next couple of weeks and we have a committee set up to try and make a decision on what organization we can work with,” Orwig said.

“We’ll have to have a public hearing after that once we present it to our board. And then, it will be the planning stage. Hopefully, as all goes as we’re thinking it could, maybe by the end of the year.”

While changes are afoot with the main branch, Orwig cautioned library patrons their branches throughout the county will not be affected. 

“We’ll be keeping all of the current number of libraries that we already have,” he noted. “There’s no plans whatsoever on changing any of that. Whenever I had talked to the (Shelburn Town Council in August 2017) we had possibly looked at moving the library if they were interested in that. But we’re not adding or subtracting any (branches). I think we will keep the same number that we have.”

Orwig is optimistic the expansion will benefit not only the library, but its patrons too.

“We’re excited,” he said. “Every day we see different needs in Sullivan County and we’re just looking to better fulfill those needs. We try to stay busy, give people programs that we feel are interesting, entertaining and informative.”

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