Phase one will include the children’s area, the lobby and the Friends’ bookstore

Published in the August 2 – August 15, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Photo courtesy Heather Geddes
From left, Caitlin Jachimowicz and Rene Spring (council members), Lesley Miles (architect), Nancy Howe (county librarian), Heather Geddes (community librarian), Steve Tate (mayor), Teresa Stephenson (President, Friends of the Library) ceremoniously break ground on the library expansion.

Rosanne Macek had a warm welcome back to the Morgan Hill Library at its 10-year birthday party celebrating the building’s grand opening. She had served as the community librarian a decade ago and remembers the excitement the public had upon entering the brand-new building July 21, 2007. And at the Saturday, July 22, party put on by the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library, she and other guests got a sneak peek of architectural plans showing the library’s major expansion next year.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already,” said Macek, who now works as a director at the Mountain View City Library. “It just reminds me of what a wonderful community Morgan Hill is, how everyone came together to get this incredible building built and now it’s 10 years of fantastic service to the community. And I’m thrilled that this building is going to be expanded and made even better. Morgan Hill is just the best.”

She remembers the many hours spent in planning and building the Morgan Hill Library, which is part of the Santa Clara County Library System. The architectural design was intended to have a warm and welcoming feel to invite the public in. And the wide array of art works provided through a Beyond Books fundraising drive added an attractive element. These include a statue of a girl sitting on a mushroom reading a book outside, an intricate wood panel mosaic in the program room, a mobile in the entrance lobby and a colorful book-themed mural overlooking the children’s book’s area.

“Carol O’Hare spearheaded that,” Macek recalled. “She was president of the Friends of the Library when I was here, and they raised money to make this building extra special with the art. You walk into this public library and immediately there’s a certain feel to it. This one just has a warm feeling to it. It feels like a supportive environment.”

Morgan Hill resident Emily Shem-Tov was involved in the Beyond Books fundraising. At the grand opening 10 years ago, she dressed up as a small, friendly rodent with a sweet treat to participate in a costume contest where people dressed as literary characters. Her costume was inspired by the classic kids book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” She was six-months pregnant with her first daughter, Clara, and wanted loose-fitting clothes at that time, she said with a laugh.

“It’s fun to come back and celebrate the birthday party 10 years afterward,” Shem-Tov said. “A lot of the same people are still involved in making the library what it is 10 years later. It’s like a blink. I can’t believe that it’s been 10 years since we put down these roots.”

She remembered the grand opening day as being extremely hot, with taiko drum performers beating their instruments outside in the sun. Also that day, Germar the Magician performed tricks of illusions to mystify young people. In honor of his participation 10 years ago, the Friends of the Library brought the magician back to entertain families in the program room on the anniversary celebration.

Seven-year-old Morgan Hill resident Brian Bueno and his mother, Ann Bueno, enjoyed the magic show and the rest of the 10-year celebration party. Brian figured out the age of the library when he was born. “Three,” he said.

One of his favorite places to visit is the Morgan Hill library.

“It has everything. Computers for kids and all that. It has pretty much everything. Books, movies, stuff for kids and parents, lots of fun activities (for families).”

Ann agreed with the quality of service for children and parents provided by the Morgan Hill Library staff.

“I’m really happy with what they’re doing here,” she said. “They have lots of stuff for kids to do and Brian has really enjoyed it.”
Also at the celebration, library guests got the chance to view large poster boards showing off the plans for the $2.8-million 11,000-square-foot expansion of the library. The project will be constructed in several phases, said Heather Ann Geddes, Morgan Hill’s community librarian.

“The part we’re planning now will hopefully break ground sometime in the winter or spring. That’s the front part of the building. We’re focusing on the children’s area, the lobby and the Friends’ bookstore. Their bookstore raises a lot of money to help support library programming and they need more space.”

Based on feedback from members of the public, many residents prefer not to make the walk to the side of the building to drop off items in the return books slot. The book return will move to the front of the library during the expansion. An expanded lobby section will also provide comfortable seating for people using library services and allow them to enjoy food and beverages in this area, Geddes said.

“We’re working to make the library a more interactive space,” she said. “As much as books and literature are the core of the library, it’s also about making connections and learning and having fun and so in our new children’s area we’re going to be adding some interactive elements and play tables where the children can play and learn.”

The city gave the design of the expansion project to local firm Weston Miles Architects. Its architect Leslie Miles was on hand at the anniversary celebration to answer questions about the project. One of the significant components of the expansion is adding a second program room which will be twice the size of the current room. It will have a dividing wall as well as a kitchenette with a sink for art and cooking classes and other “Discovery Zone” community programs.

“There’s really been a change in the demographics in Morgan Hill lately with so many young families moving in. You can see that the magic show today is completely packed,” Miles said. “As we went through the programming design phase, one of the first things that came up was this much-needed larger space for kids.”

The new book drop was also designed with kids in mind.

“The thing we noted is that children when they dropped off their books put it in and watched it go into the machine,” she said. “So we thought this front area would actually make a great book return area because it was centrally located so that people can more easily drop off books. On top of the existing kind of fun windows that are irregular windows, kids could peak in and watch the process.”

The Friends of the Library bookstore will quadruple in size, she said.

“It’ll open into the program room so that they can have their book sales right there,” she said. “They raise a huge amount of funds for the library.”

Advertisements

The design of the front profile of the building will change its look significantly. It will be constructed with a “human scale” as the focus of the design, Miles said.

“We’re adding this massive piece in front and so we have to take that down (in scale) so it’s not just a giant box,” she said. “Our roof-lines are going to be brought down to scale. Scale is really key. That’s what we’re striving for.”

Morgan Hill resident Kristyn Greenwood enjoys spending time at the library with her young sons, Aaron Schmall and Eric Schmall. She remembers the excitement the boys had when the library opened 10 years ago, and the family can’t wait for the expanded version of the building.

“We love it. Absolutely love it. My kids come here all the time, seriously,” she said. “It’s their place to go. Seriously, they’re here all the time.”