Mt Laurel Library to open new addition for programs, events

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, March 17, 2022

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NORTH SHELBY – A new space under construction at the Mt Laurel Library will provide much-needed room for programs, meetings and even private events.

Measuring nearly 700 square feet, the addition will accommodate the library’s children’s and summer reading activities, along with community meetings and small, private events.

“The room will be very versatile,” said Ann Price, who serves as president of the Friends of the Mt Laurel Library and vice president of the North Shelby Library Board. “We’ve had a little frustration of having to cut off registration in a lot of our children’s programs because we just can’t accommodate them, and this will open up those new possibilities.”

The construction of the addition is financed by the North Shelby Library, of which the Mt Laurel Library is a branch.

Mt Laurel’s addition is a part of a larger renovation project to revamp and expand the children’s area at the North Shelby Library, too.

Construction on Mt Laurel’s addition started in December, and the building is expected to open in late spring or early summer.

Kate Etheredge, director of library services for the North Shelby and Mt Laurel libraries, echoed Price’s comments regarding the addition’s versatility, and noted it will also include a storage room, kitchenette and restroom.

“Another positive is the library will now have a tornado safe space for staff and patrons,” Etheredge said. “It will also allow us to hold more events.”

Shelves on one end of the room will house the Friends of the Mt Laurel Library book sale selections and displays of community interest, which will free up space in the John Freeman Community Room in the main library building for expanding the library’s current collection of books and materials.

Tables for study and video access in the John Freeman Community Room will remain in place.

The Friends of the Mt Laurel Library will provide funds for most of the furnishings for the new room, and Etheredge said the library recently received a separate donation of artwork for it.

A large TV screen and audio/video access will be set up on another wall in the room.

Visitors and staff will be able to access the addition from inside the library, as well as through an exterior door for after-hours events.

Community members and businesses will be able to rent the room for private events.

Civic groups will be able to meet in the room at a reduced rate or for free, depending on the type of meeting they are having.

O’Kelley Architecture and David N. Brush Landscape Architecture created the design plan and landscape design for the addition.

Williams Blackstock Architects and Yellowhammer Construction Company are handling the construction of both projects.

“It’s just so much more space,” Etheredge said. “We’ve been relying on community partners to let us use their bigger spaces because while this room is good during the school year, during summer reading it can be a little crowded. Now we’ll have a brand-new, big room.”

Etheredge said the floor of the room will be luxury vinyl tile, an easy-to-clean surface that will alleviate concerns about spills during hands-on activities.

“I want kids to enjoy coming here and not have to worry about messing up,” Etheredge said.

Price and Etheredge said the library serves residents throughout the Dunnavant Valley area, not just Mt Laurel.

“This library was built because of this community,” Etheredge said. “The Friends of the Library and the local community raised the funds to build this library. We are very excited to be able to give back to the community and have more space for all sorts of programs and community events.”