The Dolley Madison Library in McLean will soon begin a new chapter in its history, as a contract was awarded last week for the architectural and engineering design plans for the planned expansion and renovation project.
The project will include an 11,000-square-foot expansion to the existing facility, built in 1967, bringing the total area to 19,000 square feet, according to a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors document dated July 25.
“We are at the very beginning of this project,” said Linda Lammerson, a legislative aid in Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois’ office.
In the spring of 2000, a feasibility study was done to determine the needs of the existing library and the potential space needed to serve the facility’s expanding customer base, said Katayoon Shaya, project manager for the library’s expansion from the building design branch of the county’s Department of Public Works and Environment Services.
Funding for the project, which is projected to cost $7.5 million, was part of a 2004 bond referendum designated to perform maintenance and expansion work on the county’s public libraries, she said.
“That price includes the design costs and building costs of $4.8 million plus additional utility work, equipment and any expenses associated with finishing the project,” Shaya said.
The contract awarded last week, for $844,753, was to Bowie Gridley Architects, which was selected as the engineering firm for the project last year. BGA had already received $49,904 for an initial feasibility study and $794,849 for the design contingency.
“It will take about one year to get the design finalized and all the permits needed to get the project underway,” Shaya said. “We hope to start construction in spring of 2007 and reopen the library in the fall of 2008. It’s a very involved project,” she said.
The library currently houses 80,000 volumes, she said, and “the current space is inadequate for the collection. We plan to expand the library in all areas, including the media access. Dolley Madison is a community library and we want to be able to better serve the community that uses it,” Shaya said.
“Contrary to popular belief, books are as popular as usual,” she said.
When the construction begins, the library will provide access to its most popular volumes and continue to have some of its membership services, said Carolyn Heyer, branch manager of the Dolley Madison Library.
“There will be a physical presence in McLean while the library is closed,” she said. “We’re not sure if it’ll be in trailers on the current site or in some leased storefront, but we will be around.”
The library staff is “very excited” about the renovation project, Heyer said. “It’s going to be fun to see this progress. We’re hoping to integrate a meeting room on the main floor and move it up from the basement where it is now. We also would like to see a quiet study room and more Internet stations.”
AS MORE AND MORE resources and books become available online, the use and needs of the library’s patrons is shifting, she said. “We’ll probably have more picture books and a smaller resource book section,” Heyer said. “This is a building that gets a lot of use, and we want people to be able to get even more use out of it.”
It will be several more months until a site design is available, she said.
While the designs are being planned, the possibility of moving Supervisor DuBois’ office to the renovated library will be discussed.
“It’s not a done deal by any means,” DuBois said. “It’s partly driven by the fact that the police would like to expand and there’s little opportunity to expand the government center on the current land.”
With the plan to expand the library already underway, it would be “the opportune time” to move the supervisor’s office to a new location “without costing the taxpayers any more money,” she said.
Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova recently had her office moved into the library in her district, and she "just loves it,” DuBois said.