The Edith Belle Libby Library welcomed patrons to renewed and expanded facilities in Old Orchard Beach on April 28, 2015. Less than two months later, the new multipurpose room hosts community activities morning, noon and night. Children and adults have been mesmerized by the saltwater aquarium that separates the Children’s area from the Circulation Desk, and Director Lee Koenigs has heard that some readers are actually looking forward to cold and snow next winter so that they can read by the fireplace.
When planning began in 2008, Scattergood Design’s goal was to create a library that uniquely suited fit this seaside community and its existing site. The first challenge was very practical. An independent needs assessment by a Boston-based library consultant advised that the library would need to triple in area to meet the community’s needs. Library trustees and city staff, however, anticipated that they could only raise funds to double the size. Scattergood Design’s solution resourcefully integrated programming in the existing space, complemented by an equal amount of new space.
With a larger building and no additional staff, wayfinding and clear organization of activities was critical. The original entrance off Staples Street was maintained, and a new covered drop-off and accessible side entry was created off the parking lot. The centrally-located Circulation Desk is the hub of library activities, visible from both doors and offering staff good sightlines throughout the public areas.
The Modernist features of the original 1957 building were enhanced and set off by the the 4500 square foot addition. The gently-arched roof of the expansion echoes the curling waves that roll along Old Orchard Beach, as well as the exuberance of Palace Playland and other amusement rides that are part of the community’s history as a summer resort. Within the building, the semi-circular circulation desk, topped with a concrete counter embedded with sea glass, recalls the beach sands.
Stained white oak trim adds warmth to the interiors, and a palette of neutral and natural colors extends the natural beauty of the surrounding park into the library spaces through ample windows. In the Children’s Room, a sunken storytelling area, surrounded by segmented walls of glass, recalls sandcastles and invites children to linger and explore new worlds through books.
Early in the design phase, energy efficiency and ample natural light were established as key objectives. In the addition, high ceilings and clerestory windows, shaded by light shelves, bring glare-free light deep into the spaces. Geothermal wells on site provide energy for heating and dissipate heat for cooling. With triple-glazed windows throughout, operations costs can be maintained while the building has doubled in size.
Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach, Library of Congress