Using resources wisely

New Oldham County
Public Library goes green

Library follows LEED standards
for long-term cost-effectiveness

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2009) – When the doors open Jan. 11 on the new Oldham County Public Library at 308 Yager Ave., in La Grange, patrons should be delighted at what confronts them. Gone are the cramped spaces and waiting in line to use computers, all replaced by a streamlined, eco-friendly aesthetic structure.



“We’re building our library to be a green library,” said Library Director Susan Eubank. The new structure is 30,000 square feet, three times larger than all three Oldham County branches put together. It is located on Yager Ave., behind the Oldham Plaza on Hwy. 53.
Eubank has been waiting patiently for this day to arrive. She worked for the Oldham County Public Library system for 16 years before becoming Library Director in 2001.
The new library is a culmination of hard work, community support and answered prayers. The facade is reminiscent of the 1930s arts and crafts style, using lots of stone, wood and colors found in nature.
An open house is tentatively planned for the community from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 11. In addition to children’s activities and musical entertainment, tours will be given of the library.
The $7.2 million building was designed to have a lodge-like feel, said Eubank. “I’m excited about it for the community. The county hasn’t lacked for service in the past, just space.”
In the former building, known as the Duerson Library, the children’s programs had to be held in the collection room. In the new library, a spacious children’s area is complete with 12 computer stations, books and nooks and crannies for library personal to store and organize their materials. There will be a separate teen space for young adults.
Since children frequently sit on the floor for children’s programs, the floor employs radiant heating. All lights are occupancy censored and will go out 10 minutes after the last person leaves the room, an energy saving feature, said Eubank. Several of the rooms contain pendant lights that will dim down automatically by working in conjunction with clear story windows.
A central, double-sided floor to ceiling propane fireplace is surrounded by a lounge area complete with café tables, magazines and a vending area nearby. The mantel for the fireplace was made from old growth poplar beams taken from a historic building in downtown Louisville.

OC Public Library

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

The new $7.2 million Oldham County
Public Library has spacious rooms
and better computer access with its
30,000 square feet of eco-friendly space.

Eubanks recalled that when her father died, her mother often visited the Boyle County Public Library. It was a place where her mother could relax and be surrounded by friendly people and not feel so alone, said Eubank. She hopes this lounge area will be just as relaxing and calming for Oldham County residents.
Many recycled items have been used in the building of the new library. This way of thinking will help the library achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which is what we are going for, said Bethany Morse, Outreach Librarian. LEED is a rating system with specifications established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Oldham County Public Library will be the first in the state to be LEED certified.
A rainwater catchment system has been installed. Rainwater is collected through the roof and directed through building gutters to a 15,000-gallon underground tank. The water is filtered for toilet use and landscape irrigation.
A rain garden will let water soak into the ground slowly and aid with storm water runoff. “I hope the facility will be a teaching facility about being green,” said Eubank.
The building project was kick started with a $1.5 million local development grant that State Sen. Ernie Harris facilitated for the project. Due to a building fund that was begun nine years ago, the library was able to save $1 million on its own and has sold local obligation bonds for $5 million.
The State Department for Libraries, through the Public Library Construction Fund Act, granted $120,000 a year for the next 20 years for debt retirement.
As many trees as possible were preserved on the 8.5-acre lot. A one-third of a mile walking trail winds along the property amidst redbuds, elms, walnuts, oaks and sycamores. Boone Gardiner Nursery is landscaping trees, plants and grasses native to the area, complemented by two rustic bridges that cross a few creeks on the property.
For those patrons in a hurry, a drive-through bookdrop and pickup window will be available. All administrative offices will be moved from their former small space in Buckner to the new library as well.
A reading terrace complements the outside of the building. This space may be used for children’s programming during warmer months. Engraved pavers can be purchased for $50 for this space.
Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates of Fort Mitchell, Ky., was the architect for this project. The Morel Construction Co. Inc. of Louisville, Ky., was the construction contractor.
The Duerson branch closed Nov. 29 with a “Passing of the Book Ceremony.” There were about 80 people present from the community, said Morse. The crowd walked from the old library to the new one, picking up individuals along the way.
“Several community leaders and long-time library patrons were interspersed along the route,” said Morse. Certain individuals were chosen to bear a symbolic book from the Duerson branch to the new Main Library on Yager Avenue. The Duerson branch was built in 1968 as part of the county wide library system. This site is currently for sale.

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