A significant renovation at Hamilton East Public Library in Fishers has been ongoing for nearly two years. The work was delayed for a while because of the supply-chain issues that affected most of the world, but the project now is coming to a close.
Library Director/CEO Edra Waterman led the way through the newly renovated areas of the library, which still have some finishing work underway.
“So, this was all just kind of a back-of-the-house, basementy kind of area prior to the renovations,” she said, walking through the construction area with the required hardhat. “We had a public space that used to have a computer lab back when we did computer labs, but we incorporated our computers into our main floor a while back, so a lot of this was just very underutilized.”
Now, that underutilized space will become the main entrance to the library, with the front doors opening into a spacious lobby housing a dramatic two-story, cylindrical glass art installation. The art piece is not only impressive, but also functional.
“So, this is actually our mechanical room,” Waterman said, pointing to the lower level of the installation. “We couldn’t move that, obviously, so we decided to kind of incorporate that arts theme into the whole building and include that as a really great feature as you walk into the library.”
The second floor of the installation houses a circular room that’s part of the new teen area.
Art is a recurring theme throughout the renovated space. There are walls and surfaces dedicated to showcasing art.
They also will offer more meeting spaces for the community. Director of Marketing and Communications Kelsey Sweet said public input made it clear those spaces were in demand.
“They’re bookable by any nonprofit group,” Sweet said, “We have a lot of (homeowner associations) that meet in our space. We have Girl Scout troops. We do public meetings.”
Besides the interior renovations, there also will be a change to the exterior, with a new and larger parking lot by the new main entrance. Waterman said parking has been a challenge for a while.
“So, once we get the north entrance opened and the new north parking lot is opened, we will have almost twice as much parking as we had before,” she said, adding that the former main entrance will become the secondary entry point to the building. “In the second phase of this construction, we’re redoing that side of the library into more of a pedestrian plaza that leads from the (Nickel Plate) Trail to the municipal center.”
Included in the renovation is an outdoor balcony on the second floor, which will be a reading and study space on nice days.
“One of the goals of this construction project was to reimagine the library’s site in ways that made it more accessible and brought the outside in and the inside out in different ways,” Waterman said.
The renovation cost $16.1 million, which includes a new roof for the entire facility. Waterman said the project’s intention was to serve the community’s needs through the next 20 years.
The renovated section should open to the public later this spring.