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Erlanger Library to See Expansion for Maker Space

This fall, the Erlanger Branch of the Kenton County Public Library will undergo a construction project that will add 13,000 sq. ft. to the 15-year-old, 34,300 sq. ft. facility. Construction will begin in October. The addition will include a new meeting room, a small study room as well as a space that will be used as Northern Kentucky’s first public library maker space. The second facet of the project includes a facility to house the administrative staff of the Kenton County Public Library system.

The Maker Space, called the STREAM Learning Center, will have a dual purpose. Primarily this space will be used to further enhance the Library’s literacy curriculum as it relates to the STEM/STEAM movement. STEM, or STEAM, stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The Library already conducts many programs with this focus. However with the addition of this space, the Library will enhance the literacy component as it relates to these topics. Library staff plan to partner with area schools to work with their students to continue to build the STEM/STEAM curriculum.

When not in use by Library staff for programs, this space will be open to all those seeking to use the resources and equipment to do a multitude of projects to enhance their personal or professional lives.

The STREAM Learning Center is a unique opportunity for residents of the area to experience, create and learn about the world around them. Children need a healthy foundation of literacy skills in order to thrive in science, technology, engineering, arts and math disciplines. Thus STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math) was born. The STREAM Center will combine digital age technology with hands-on learning for learners of all ages.

A public meeting space will also be added as part of the expansion and addition. Currently, the Erlanger Branch Library has one large meeting room that is in constant use by both the Library and community organizations. In fiscal year 2015-2016, the Library offered 7,432 programs with over 190,000 people participating in these events. These programs take place in the Library meeting rooms. When not in use by the Library, these rooms are utilized by a variety of groups for a multitude of purposes.

Laura Loechle, adult programmer at the Erlanger Branch, oversees the meeting room schedule. “On average, we receive 5-10 meeting room requests a week from outside groups. For the month of March, 2016, we were unable to provide meeting spaces for multiple outside groups whose attendance would add up to approximately 350 people,” stated Loechle. “Ideally as a library we would love to bring in nationally known authors but due to lack of space have not been able to do so. With this new addition, we will be able to accommodate crowds of up to 500.”  The space can also be divided into three smaller rooms to simultaneously accommodate multiple groups.

Groups who use the current meeting rooms include but are not limited to: SCORE, the Optimist Club, Sheep Dog Veteran Assistance, Kenton County Alliance, Job Assistance Group, American Cancer Society, Homeowners’ Associations, MOMs Club, Rosedale Green Non-Profit Nursing Home, Kentucky Watershed Watch, Friends of the Kenton County Public Library, and Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission. There are approximately twelve Homeschool groups and several Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops.  The Erlanger Branch Library provides spaces for teacher meetings from Holy Spirit, Erlanger-Elsmere Schools, Liber Academy, St. Henry, Special Olympics Art Show, Hinsdale Elementary, and Villa Madonna.

“Programming at the Kenton County Public Library has been extremely popular and very well attended,” stated Dave Schroeder, the Library’s Executive Director. “Since 2010, program attendance has increased by 51 percent. Library programs include everything from early childhood literacy storytimes, book clubs, health clinics, business services, computer classes, family events and civic engagement. The age groups of people attending our programs include infants through senior citizens. We receive frequent requests for more programming each year and this new addition will help us meet the needs requested by our community.”  

On the grounds of the Erlanger Branch property, also a facility will be built to house the administrative offices.  Staff are currently housed in leased space in Ft. Mitchell. This building will be constructed on the Erlanger Branch property and will eliminate any further need to lease space, thus saving funds that can be used for direct library services to the public. Being adjacent to one of the library branches will increase efficiencies, reduce deliveries, and will allow a better work flow between administrative and branch staff.

The Erlanger Branch Library is located at 401 Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger, Kentucky. In fiscal year 2015-2016, the Erlanger Branch Library welcomed 358,467 visitors who checked out nearly one million items. Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates is the architect of record for this project (this firm also did the design of the current Erlanger Branch Library). Construction will be completed by December 2017. As this is an addition, any disruption to library service should be minimal. 

-Staff report

Photo: Erlanger branch