Renovations Preserve Main Library History

Posted on September 5, 2019

by Library News

In just a few weeks, the Main Library doors will reopen and unveil a year’s worth of renovations inside.

New collaborative spaces will host everything from community meetings to business development. Customers can express their imaginations like never before with upgraded technology.

Main Library has welcomed all residents for generations. The building itself, a Toledo landmark since 1940, boasts a beautiful façade and art deco design. It is a knowledge hub that elicits awe.

Seamlessly blending renovations alongside long-standing fixtures was a priority. The results will be on display at the Sept. 28 opening.

“Each architectural decision preserves the integrity and inclusivity of Main Library,” said Jason Kucsma, Toledo Lucas County Public Library director. “Main Library has always been an absolute gem. This update honors our history while looking to the future.”

Architectural Integrity

The overall theme was enhancing features that have always been present in Main Library, said Kevin Kennedy, a principal and project manager at HBM Architects in Cleveland.

The Historic Court, for example, holds beautiful and irreplaceable Vitrolite glass panels, ornate original light fixtures and detailed historic murals. Designers used such motifs and colors in framing new millwork throughout Main Library, he said.

“We look not so much to replace, or even replicate, but to enhance what is already in place with modern accoutrements to the already rich historic presence existing in the whole building,” Kennedy said.

The public’s entranceway from the parking lot has transformed into an experience. It now showcases a bright, back-painted glass clad “promenade,” flanked by the glass-enclosed Community Room and Work Space, Kennedy said.

Flexibility is at the core of this project. As community needs change in upcoming years, the Library can quickly and economically pivot, he said.

Our job on a personal level with each customer is to help them be their best selves, and we want a building that supports that.
Meg Delaney
Main Library Manager

Mike Graybeal, superintendent of Facilities and Operations, said the new construction visibly ties in with Main Library’s traditional components.

This includes carpet patterns and glass additions throughout the building, as well as brushed aluminum around some doorways and openings. Popular features such as the Vitrolite glass remain as they were.

Implementing these updates in an historic building can be logistically complex. Staff have been fantastic alongside the workers, and architects brought a tremendous vision, Graybeal said.

An Aspirational Environment

Any public building, and especially a library, should inspire people and ensure they feel at ease. A setting as grand as Main Library presents this environment, said Meg Delaney, Main Library manager.

“It’s our job to help the community be aspirational. Our job on a personal level with each customer is to help them be their best selves, and we want a building that supports that,” Delaney said.

Delaney said workers picked up on the modernistic edges of art deco, and carried them forward throughout the building. Striking a balance with historic elements is important, she added.

“I am really impressed with the architects’ dedication to bringing some of those art deco features through into the recently renovated areas,” Delaney said.

Toledo Lucas County Public Library leaders work to anticipate what services the public will use for years to come. The Library is fulfilling a need for open and welcoming spaces that drive professional development.

“We’re always trying to be one step ahead of what we think our community needs,” Delaney said.

Customers can soon see the extensive renovations and celebrate at the opening event. It is set for noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 28 at Main Library, 325 Michigan St. in downtown Toledo.

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