Expansion gives HDL North Branch a comfy ‘living room’ feel

With plenty of space and an entirely redesigned interior, Herrick District Library’s North Branch now has the feel of a community living room. And that’s exactly what patrons asked for.

The library reopened Feb. 1 after a $4 million expansion and improvement project that doubled its size to 10,000 square feet.

A community survey ahead of the design phase showed the public wanted a comfy, “living room” feel. They also wanted to keep the small, friendly feel of the existing building while gaining space and facilities.

More programs, more services

A large multipurpose meeting room occupies one end of the children’s section. A Skyfold door comes down from the ceiling to create a soundproof room for meetings, crafting events, or visits from Llama Llama or Pete the Cat.

A fun feature at HDL Northside branch is a replica of the Big Red lighthouse.
“The programming space was the drive for the project,” HDL North Branch Manager Rob Carpenter says. “This expansion allows us to do more programs, more services, more materials. But it’s also really important that we were able to keep that intimate feel that makes the North Branch so special.”

Although the library is grateful to the Holland Township Fire Department for allowing it to use space at the adjacent fire station during the renovation, staff are happy to have their own programming area, Carpenter says.

Community input

HDL sought community input on the expansion at the 155 Riley St. facility through focus group conversations across the Holland area, input boards inside the library, and a popular online pictorial survey.

During the run-up to the 2016 millage renewal vote, library leadership promised to save up money out of the library’s general fund to expand the North Branch, and they have kept that promise, according to HDL Director Diane Kooiker.

The library issued no bonds to pay for the $4 million expansion. Rather, money was saved out of the operational budget, and the project is now paid off, Kooiker says.

“We have an amazing staff, and now we have an amazing space, as well, that helps us to better serve the community,” she says.

Repairs, upgrades

In addition to the multipurpose meeting room, the expanded facility has study rooms, an early literacy play area, and more seating and workspace. All signs are in both English and Spanish.

The HDL North Branch — originally built more than 20 years ago — comprised 5,000 square feet, including shelving, a small storytime area, computers, staff work area, and storage. The original structure was designed with future expansion in mind. Repairs and equipment upgrades were also a part of the renovation, Kooiker says.
The expanded Herrick District Library branch reopened Feb. 1.
What was once the exterior wall is now a part of the foyer, with high ceilings and lighting reminiscent of the library’s “ripple” logo.

The section for adults features three study rooms, computers, tables for research and a fireplace surrounded by comfy couches and chairs.

‘Grab & Go’ phase

For now, the comfy seating will remain unused. As at the main library, HDL North Branch is in its “Grab & Go” phase for COVID-19 safety.

Patrons can check out books, movies, music, and other materials. They can use computers and photocopiers. They can pay fines. They can get a library card or convert their digital card to a permanent one. And they can just come to see the new space. However, seating and study rooms are unavailable at this time. All programs are virtual. 

The library is open to patrons from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, although hours are expected to expand in the future. HDL Main, 300 S. River Ave., is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Face masks are required for entry at both locations. However, curbside service also remains available. Patrons can place holds on their favorite materials and pick them up when the items are ready by calling the phone number at a designated parking space.

Kids will have fun seating, too. But they might be more interested in the replica of Big Red that sits in one corner, large enough to climb inside.

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.

Shandra Martinez is the managing editor of The Lakeshore WM.
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