Delaware will spend $22 million to construct a new library in North Wilmington just 0.2 miles from an existing library, which is undergoing a $6 million renovation.
Once complete, visitors will be able to check out a book at the $22 million library located at 3905 N Market St., then walk five minutes down the road to the $6 million 3400 N Market St. location, where they can check out another book.
In a press release Tuesday, Gov. John Carney said, “Libraries have evolved to meet the needs of communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It’s fitting, then, that the state would use COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act as well as FY 2023 Bond Bill funds to plow down a vintage Saab dealership and, in its place, build a library with “ample land for site development and increased parking needs.”
Jeff Bullock, Delaware’s secretary of state, said patrons will be able to do more than check out books at the new libraries.
“When we invest in our libraries, we are investing in children and families of all walks of life,” Bullock said. “No other public institution but libraries can assist someone looking for employment, provide health and social services, and connect individuals to critical resources all in one place.”
Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, said libraries help to bridge inequities in Delaware’s communities.
“Reimagining our libraries is paramount to helping our young folks who are falling through the cracks of our education system and as a result, ending up on the streets,” Brown said. “This investment is about giving our children in marginalized communities better opportunities to succeed.”
The press release didn’t mention a timeline for the project or offer any insight into the design plans.
In August, Delaware LIVE News reported that the state would use $6 million in Bond Bill funds to renovate the North Wilmington Branch Library.
Branch director Jamar Rahming said at the time that the project would transform the library on North Market Street into a “library campus” that includes “space for large events and for community organizations to coalesce.”
The new space will be called the “Think. Do. Hub.” and will likely feature an updated facade, state-of-the-art lobby and event space, and resources to support workforce development in the community. According to concept renderings, there could also be a rooftop garden.
Rony Baltazar-Lopez, director of policy and communications for the Delaware Department of State, said the renovations to the existing library will continue.
“The plan is to have both libraries offer complementary services to residents,” Baltazar-Lopez said.
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