New library planned for Middletown
Apr 02, 2019 01:11PM
● By Steven Hoffman
A brand new, state-of-the-art library with abundant programming spaces and the latest technology to better serve the area will soon be built in Middletown.
County and local officials announced the project during the latter part of 2018. A groundbreaking should come later this year, and the new library could open as early as sometime in 2021.
It has long been a goal to increase access to library services in the area south of the C & D Canal, and the new project will greatly enhance the offerings in the fastest-growing region in New Castle County. The new library will be designed to meet the community’s needs, with adequate spaces for programs and core library services that promote literacy and learning.
The new library is expected to be approximately 25,000 square feet, about twice the size of the Appoquinimink Library, which has outgrown its temporary home in rented office space in downtown Middletown. The new library will be constructed on a portion of the Promenade property at the corner of East Main Street (Route 299) and S. Catherine Street.
“We have listened to the people and are increasing county service south of the C&D canal, in collaboration with the state and town of Middletown government,” County Executive Matt Meyer said in a statement. “This library, to be located at the community’s preferred site, will be a community gem and a source of literacy and education for generations to come.”
At the event where the site of the new library was announced, Meyer talked about how the construction of a new library was a priority since it is a way to expand services for county residents who live south of the C & D Canal. Other priorities include a new paramedic station and a new park.
Marcus Henry, the general manager for the county’s Department of Community Services, explained at the announcement that over the last few years officials looked at more than a dozen sites for the new library before deciding on the site at the corner of Route 299 and S. Catherine Street. It is a site favored by current library users, and it has numerous advantages over some of the other sites. The site offers high visibility, as well as ease of accessibility, including multiple points of access for those walking, cycling, driving, or taking mass transit. The new library will be in close proximity to residential areas, schools, and recreational areas. The characteristics of the property are also favorable for development, and the site size is large enough for the library to have adequate parking. There’s even room on the site for future expansion.
A library has been located in the town of Middletown since 1901, so locating the new building in town was also a factor that was considered. A permanent library has long been needed—and desired—for the growing area, which is why the project is receiving so much support at the state, county, and local levels.
The estimated cost to design, construct, and furnish the library is approximately $24 million. The project will be funded through a combination of county, state, and private funds. Library construction costs will be split by the state and county governments, which have each already contributed $5 million in capital funding.
“Libraries are a reflection of community growth and development, and it’s wonderful that this library will soon have a new home to support the continued growth of this thriving community,” said Delaware State Librarian Dr. Annie Norman in a statement. “Thank you to the many officials, Friends of the Library members and other supporters who are working to keep libraries in the forefront as a priority.”
At the announcement, speakers included Meyer, Henry, and Norman, as well as Delaware State Sen. Stephanie Hanson, New Castle County Manager of Libraries Diana Brown, Middletown Mayor Ken Branner, and Friends of the Appoquinimink Library president Susan Kemer.
Several of the speakers talked about the importance of securing the right site for the new library. Middletown has a long history of having a library in town. Additionally, it was important to continue to serve the people who already make use of the library.
With the additional program spaces, state-of-the-art technology, and extra room for library materials, the new library, when completed, should serve even more people in the community. Meyer noted that libraries remain valuable resources in a community. One illustration of that is the fact that the number of new library cards in the county is growing significantly.“Our libraries,” said Meyer, “are thriving like never before.”