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Central Point, library may share space

CENTRAL POINT - As one of the county's oldest and busiest libraries prepares for a new building, the city hopes to get some much-needed office space out of the deal.

City Council members and library officials met Tuesday to discuss development of a shared two-story building on an 8,188-square-foot site next door to City Hall.

Under the informal proposal, the top floor would provide expansion space for city offices and would be funded by the city.

Downstairs would serve as the new city library, one of 14 in the county being replaced or remodeled with a $39 million bond approved in May 2000.

The site would replace an aging 2,600-square-foot space on Pine Street that has been used since 1970.

City Administrator Jim Bennett said the possibility of building a new library next to city hall provided an easy opportunity for the city to expand.

While the city has adequate office space, Bennett said, he anticipated it would need more room in about five years. Plans for an annex have been in the works since City Hall was built in 1980, he said.

Architects Skelton, Straus & Seibert of Medford - which will design the new library - designed City Hall with an annex in mind that they anticipated the city would need within two decades.

"Well, it's 20 years later and they were right," Bennett said.

Margaret Jakubcin, west county regional library manager, said while the project would be unique and require some "ironing out of issues" because of the mixing of city and bond monies, the site was ideal for the project.

The Central Point branch, despite having no public rest rooms and very little parking, is one of the busiest in the county. Jakubcin said growing from 2,600 to 8,000 square feet would be a welcome expansion.

"We're glad we have the opportunity to do this project on a city property because it's the ideal location," she said. "It's great for the library and great for the community to have the library in the central core of the city."

Jakubcin pointed out that, while all new libraries were being designed with some common features - room to expand later, clusters of rest rooms and meetings rooms and the circulation desk as the central focus - each library would take on the character of its community.

Some ideas brought up by council members included shared parking, a landscaped courtyard and a skywalk between City Hall and the second floor of the new building.

A panel of community members will be established to accept ideas and concerns about the project as it progresses.

Community meetings on preliminary designs are planned for September.

For information about the library bond projects, visit www.jcls.org on the Web.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at .