Neighbors on board with renovation plans as Lovett Library prepares for 2-year closure

 A look at the updated renderings for Lovett. (Courtesy of J.R. Keller LLC)

A look at the updated renderings for Lovett. (Courtesy of J.R. Keller LLC)

On Monday evening, the Friends of Lovett Memorial Library gathered in the library’s 130-year-old meeting space. The matter foremost on their minds was if their concerns about the library’s upcoming renovation have been addressed. 

Approximately 33 friends, neighbors, library staff and trustees were present to discuss plans for the library as it heads into its 2-year renovation project on a note of positivity.

Lovett’s proposed renovations are part of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s multi-million 21st Century Libraries Initiative. In June 2013, the Lovett community first learned their library had been selected along with four other neighborhood branches for the pilot phase of the FLP’s modernization initiative. The project, which is being funded by the William Penn Foundation, will involve renovating the Parkway Central Library, modernizing select neighborhood libraries and building community partnerships.

Architect James R. Keller has spearheaded the libraries’ renovation designs, and costs for the Lovett branch alone are estimated at $8.2 million dollars.

Keller was not able to attend Monday’s meeting, but met with David Moore, President of the Friends of Lovett Memorial Library, prior to the meeting to discuss the revised renovation plans in detail.

“The plans show a tremendous improvement over what we originally had seen,” said Moore.

The proposed plans for the library’s renovations were first revealed to the community in February 2014. Though the design includes an ambitious addition that will increase the library by almost one-third, library goer’s were concerned there wasn’t enough space designated for physical books. Community members were also worried about the loss of table space in the children’s library, making sure there is an appropriate break room for staff and the utilization of the library’s outdoor spaces.

From the onset, architect James Keller assured the community that while the design may not be the traditional library layout they’re used to, the new library will be “more welcoming and community centered.” Keller also stressed that he was open to the neighbors’ concerns and would take all requests into account as he continued to finalize the design.

Keller proved true to his word as Monday’s reveal showed an increase in tables in the children’s library as well as a complete addition designed to provide staff a break room. A porch will also be added to utilize some of the library’s outdoor space.

Remaining concerns include the efficiency of the all-glass exterior on the new addition. A sub-committee of the Friends of Lovett Library has been formed to address the concern before the plans are finalized end of July.

The Friends of Lovett Memorial Library are now focusing their attention to how they will support the library during the proposed 2-year hiatus.

“We raised our voices and we were heard,” Moore said. “Now it’s on to the next thing.”

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