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Investing today to offer inspiration and improve Elkhart libraries

An inspiring $4.5 million investment to improve Elkhart Public Library’s neighborhood branches is underway.

>>> See construction details and timetable <<<

When construction concludes in 2022, library guests will find friendly spaces to study and collaborate in small groups. Building additions at three locations will expand spaces for children’s events, and power users will find the collections of books and movies easier to browse.

Conceptual drawing of new EPL checkout desks at branches
Artist’s concept of branch help desks.
(Courtesy MKM architecture + design)

None of EPL’s four branches have had significant improvements made since their openings. Cleveland, the newest location, opened in 2001. Pierre Moran and Osolo have been in their buildings since the late 1980s, and Dunlap opened in the early 1990s.

“(D)espite the plethora of new services we’ve begun to offer” in the past few decades, the buildings themselves have not changed much, says Kevin Kilmer, EPL assistant director. “We have no real meeting or programming space.”

That is all about to change for the good.

Dunlap and Cleveland will be the first to close for renovations in January 2021. (Check here often for construction details and updates.)

Ideas for the project were developed over the course of the past few years, with the public invited to provide critical input during the library’s strategic planning process in 2018.

The overall action plan includes creating friendlier spaces for children and teens, as well as strengthening the connection with neighbors to share information about everyday services and special events. The plans will create spaces just as valuable tomorrow as they will be in 20 years.

Proposed exterior view of the renovated Osolo Branch, part of the work to improve Elkhart libraries.
Proposed exterior view of renovated Osolo Branch.
(Courtesy MKM architecture + design)

MKM architecture + design has placed the ideas to improve Elkhart libraries on paper, and Wilburn Construction will serve as general contractor.

A guiding principle in decision making about the branches is based on the “third place” concept. People spend enormous amounts of time at home and work. But the third place – whether a church, fitness center, library or elsewhere – is the welcome location for leisure activities and a place to share and learn.