Alphabytes Feb2023 :: Transformation Sparks Neighborhood Revitalization 2023-08-01T20:28:18+00:00

Library Transformation Sparks Neighborhood Revitalization

The renovation of the main branch of the Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, West Virginia not only transformed the library, but the ripple effect can be seen throughout the surrounding neighborhood. From coffee shops and restaurants to artisans and businesses, downtown Charleston is going through a renaissance ─ and it all started with the library.

The $32 million dollar renovation is the result of almost two decades of fundraising by the library foundation, which managed to secure 100 percent of the funding. “The Foundation had a vision for a state-of-the-art library that would meet the needs of the diverse community,” said Kanawha County Library Director Erika Connelly. “I was fortunate to be selected to help make that vision a reality.”

Connelly and her team navigated the two-year renovation through the COVID pandemic, shifting locations and getting creative in terms of how the space was built to address health and safety concerns. Their creativity, thoroughness and innovation is reflected in the new library, which was completed on time despite the challenges.

The main focus of the library space is on engagement ─ whether through books, programming or access to the latest technology, from 3D printers and virtual reality to sewing machines and supplies. “We want this space to be part of the community, not just a place to grab a book and go,” said Connelly. “All of the spaces are designed for usability and are flexible so that we can adapt and change with community needs.”

When it came to self-service technology, Connelly turned to EnvisionWare as a trusted vendor partner. “It’s almost as if someone shook out EnvisionWare and the products landed all over this building,” she said. “I had worked with EnvisionWare for many years and knew they could be counted on for service and reliability.”

EnvisionWare products are both inside and outside of the building. Inside, the library offers RFID, OneStop and EnvisionWare’s X11 hardware for self-service checkout, PC Reservation® and LPT:One™ for computer and print management, and the Library Documentation Station. Outside of the library, patrons have access to EnvisionWare’s Holds Locker and the 24-Hour Library for remote, 24/7 self-service.

The new library opened over the summer of 2022 and ignited a spark within the community. Since then, the area continues to see a revitalization, drawing families and community members to breathe life into the downtown.