By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
Riverview Library patrons may get their breath knocked out upon entering the new facility next summer. The lobby of the new Riverview Library will contain a terrazzo art design of the River of Fire, celebrating the Alafia River. It’s finally coming out of the ground and should open by this time in 2020 on Balm Riverview Road across from YMCA Camp Cristina.
The existing 8,000 square foot Riverview Library was built in 1979 to serve the populations of Riverview, Gibsonton and Apollo Beach. It wasn’t long, however, before swarms of people began to fill up South Shore. In FY18, the U.S. Census estimated the population of these areas to be 113,000 people, many of whom have visited the library.
According to its website, “In all, 103,810 visitors [have] checked out 203,186 items from this one-room library, which is also busy with computer users, program attendees, children and parents, tutors, people needing a place for quiet contemplation, and people looking for an active environment for brainstorming and collaboration. Very few seats have access to power for device charging.” Competition to use the space has intensified, and the Riverview Library is functionally obsolete. The need for library service in the area has simply outgrown the library’s building and its land.
Hillsborough County Libraries Manager of Operations David Wullschlegerd is so excited about the terrazzo entrance, and, in fact, the entire new library, that he can’t say enough. “This has been a big week,” Wullschlegerd said during a recent interview.
He explained that the process of preparing the site took a bit longer than expected due to the soil conditions. “That pushed it back a few weeks, but it’s still in the ballpark of mid-summer 2020.
Swatches and finishes have been flying around the selection committee, but furniture types and colors are all about nailed down now. “There’s been a lot going on. We’re in the process now of selecting furniture and equipment. The paint will be a pale green and soft white in various shades. The carpet is soft green, gray and brown.” In areas where there is no carpet, luxury vinyl flooring will be used. “It will be a nice blend of textures and tones,” Wullschlegerd said. “It will be very elegant. That, combined with the public art that is going in, will be fantastic.”
The public art committee received money set aside for public art in all current library construction projects. That committee, which selects local artists, chose an artist who will develop stained glass pieces to be placed throughout the building.
“I’ve seen the proposal,” Wullschlegerd said. One artist is doing all of them. They don’t yet have the pieces. The stained glass was chosen, he said, because there are some perfect locations for it throughout the building. “From what I’ve seen, the designs depict nature that is relevant to the Riverview area,” added Wullschlegerd. “When I saw the renderings, I was just blown away. I can’t wait to see them installed.”
Wullschlegerd also said he knows the Riverview community is very excited about the new library.
Here are a few comparisons with the existing library:
• It is four times bigger: the existing is 8,000 square feet, and this one will be 35,000 square feet.
• Instead of one meeting room, it will have eight, and five will be available for after-hours’ use.
• Friends of the Library will have a bookstore space there.
• There will be a maker space, a multiple use space where the library is focusing on technology and crafts.
• There will be a recording studio where patrons can record video or audio; it will have two editing suites where they can, after the fact, do all their editing. “[This is] something we are doing more and more,” Wullschlegerd said. “It attracts people of all ages.”
• The children’s library, which will be an enclosed space within the main library, will have an early learning “HIVE.”
“We call our creative space ‘HIVE.’ It’s an activity area for interactive learning for pre-school kids.”
The new library will also have a screened in, covered reading porch that will overlook the wetland area toward the back of the library. And all the seating areas will have power supplies, so people can plug in their tablets, laptops and cell phones. “We really welcome people to come and hang out,” Wullschlegerd said.
In terms of sustainability, the county’s building standards are geared toward energy efficiency and sustainability. A solar powered system will be on the roof. There will also be an electric car charging station.
The landscaping will be native and drought resistant. The library received about $100,000 from the county’s Environmental Restoration Fund to add trees to the landscape.
To keep up with the progress and see the artist rendering of that terrazzo floor, visit https://hcplc.org/locations/riverview-replacement.