Williamsburg Regional Library Set for Major Modernization

Plans are underway to modernize the 50-year-old Williamsburg Regional Library branch on Scotland Street. Following years of discussions, library officials are aiming to replace the aging building with a new, more accommodating facility for both staff and residents.

Originally constructed in 1973, the Williamsburg branch received significant additions in 1982 and 1998. Despite these updates, space constraints continue to be a major challenge, according to Interim Library Director Sandy Towers. “We are really bursting at the seams,” she stated.

The proposed project includes demolishing the current building and constructing a new one designed to be more ADA accessible. The new facility will offer expanded spaces for children’s materials, additional meeting rooms, and state-of-the-art technology and utilities. “The plumbing, the HVAC, the electrical, and data – all of those systems are in desperate need of an upgrade,” Towers explained. “We are really just one catastrophic failure away from having to close the library.”

Towers also highlighted the need for more room for the makerspace and digital memory lab, as well as an upgraded, modern theater. “This building has served us really well, but it’s time for a new building that has the infrastructure to support the kinds of programming we do now,” she said.

The project also involves the demolition of the Williamsburg Police Department station located on the same block. With the police station set to move to Lafayette Street in late 2025, the library could potentially utilize that space for its new building.

The estimated cost for the project stands at around $42 million, though no fixed timeline has been established. Towers indicated that the design phase could take 12 or more months, followed by another 12 months for construction. “It’s a landmark building, it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We want to do it right,” she emphasized.

The push to replace the library gained traction under former Library Director Betsy Fowler, who conducted community surveys and input sessions to assess public interest and expectations for a new facility.

Contractor bids are expected by the end of June, with Williamsburg City Council anticipated to vote on a preferred contractor as early as August. “Then we will start planning public input sessions,” Towers mentioned. “There will be opportunities for everyone in the community to share their ideas and tell us what they’d like to see.”

As the project advances, the Williamsburg Regional Library staff will need to relocate services from the Scotland Street building. The relocation specifics will depend on various factors, including whether the final design necessitates the early or late demolition of the police station. “If they determine that the best location on this block is where the police station is, then the library building could remain operational for at least part of the construction time,” Towers noted. “If they determine that the place where the library is now is the best site, then we will have to have alternate operations sooner rather than later.”

Potential temporary relocation options include finding a vacant storefront in town or temporarily using the old police station.

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