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Libraries for the 21st century: HMCPL Moves Forward with two new libraries for the City of Huntsville

Conceptual drawing of North Huntsville Library


The Huntsville Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) and the City of Huntsville are finalizing plans for two new state-of-the-art libraries in Huntsville: the North Huntsville Library, which will replace the Bessie K. Russell Library on Sparkman Drive and the South Huntsville Library, which will replace the Bailey Cove Library. Both libraries have outgrown their current locations and require more space and amenities to better serve their communities.

“Libraries are gathering places. When we were in the design phase of both projects, we asked ourselves: ‘What does the library of the future look like?’ said Laurel Best, Executive Director of the HMCPL. “And that is what we will deliver to Huntsville – libraries that break the traditional mold and put technology and literacy hand in hand.”

Conceptual drawing of North Huntsville Library

Fuqua and Associates designed the libraries, with input from the community and library staff. The North Huntsville Library, which will go out for construction bid in May 2019, will be 27,000 square feet. This new library at the Berachah Center, located next door to the Russell Library, will feature numerous amenities that are not offered at the current location, including a computer and workforce development lab. The Russell Library has the fourth-highest computer usage across HMCPL’s 12 branches, despite only having five public computers available. The North Huntsville Library will offer two meeting rooms, multiple study areas, an enclosed children’s area, a public lounge, and a Makerspace, which is a high-tech creative area with 3D printers and vinyl cutting machines.

“The fundraising committee has been working for over two years to raise the funds to make this project happen,” said Kimberly Caudle Lewis, chairperson of the North Huntsville Capital Campaign Committee.  “We are excited that we are one step closer to making it a reality. This new library will be a great addition to the north Huntsville community.”

Conceptual drawing of South Huntsville Library

The South Huntsville Library is also in its final phases, with a planned construction bid date as early as April 2019. The new library will be the cornerstone of the Sandra Moon Community Complex, located on the old Grissom High School campus. The South Huntsville Library’s planned square footage is 39,000 square feet, an appropriate size for one of the busiest branches in the HMCPL system.  It will feature a children’s area with a puppet theatre, a quiet living-room style reading room, a Makerspace and a teen area with a gaming center. In addition, it will have a reception hall with a catering kitchen, a multi-purpose conference room, a classroom, multiple study rooms and a cafe.

“South Huntsville is going through a revitalization and the new library is a major part of that,” said Phil Riddick, Madison County Commissioner for District 5, who donated $2 million of county funds for the South Huntsville project. “And with the addition of much-needed meeting space, the library will also be able to better serve businesses in South Huntsville. It is an exciting addition.”

For more information on both library projects, please visit huntsvillelibraryfoundation.org/capitalcampaigns

Contributed by Melanie Thornton, Director of Public Relations, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library

This article is published in our April 2019 issue of Initiatives magazine.