or so, New Castle County will take possession of the building
which will house the Brandywine Hundred branch of its library
system from Wohlsen
There are still a pair of significant loose ends to tie up, but
no longer any doubt that the state-of-the-art facility will be
ready to open its doors to the public in the early spring of
2003, probably in April.
As project director
for the Friends organization, Conrad, who will turn 78 about the
time it happens, naturally regards completion of the structure
as the significant milestone. "All that's left to do now is [to]
stock it and raise the rest of the money," he said in classic
The county has
budgeted $800,000 to pay for new materials -- books, electronic
media and other items -- to supplement what will be moved from
the Concord Pike Library at Talleyville, which the facility in
Talley-Day Park off Foulk Road will replace. "Tom Weaver's staff
over there has already begun the process of weeding out their
collection," Conrad said.
fund-raising drive, he said, is about $400,000 to $500,000 shy
of raising the $3 million voluntary-contribution community share
of the $11.6 million it cost to build the new library. Laying
the first 1,214 bricks inscribed with donors' names will
be the among the last construction tasks. Actually, there will
be 4,000 bricks in the 'Colonnade of Freedom"; the uninscribed
ones will be replaceable as later donations are received, he
On a tour of the
nearly completed building, Conrad said the library will be
everything that was promised during a long gestation.
The new library was
a long time coming -- considering that the study and report
which led to a turnaround in the status of library in the county
came out in the early 1990s. "Over the years, Delaware hadn't
spent money that was needed on its libraries," he said, adding
that was surprising in view of the general level of education in
the state, particularly in the northern county.
"In the last 10
years, we have made progress," he said. However, there is still
a ways to go. The state, he said, ranks 51st, behind all the
other states and the District of Columbia, in per capita
spending on library staffs.
The flip side of
that, he said, is that the administration of County Executive
Tom Gordon appears firmly committed to both the Brandywine
Hundred library and libraries in general. He cites the addition
of nine additional people over the present staff of the
Concord Pike Library, which the new one replaces. Also, he said,
the new one will be open seven days a week instead of the six
during which the other branches operate.
Although no longer
designated the Northern Regional Library, the Brandywine Hundred
branch will likely be the hub of an interconnected system, he
said. Farther down the pike, it will serve as a model for
another large library in the fast-growing southern part of the
completed Brandywine Hundred branch library will
provide patrons with a spacious, comfortable place
to read or research. Taking a cue from major book
sellers, the facility will include a coffee shop and
homey features like fireplaces for winter and porch
rocking chairs in summer.
Jim Conrad, of
the Friends of Concord Pike Library leads a tour of
the 150 feet-long main 'stacks' area. Note the
fireplace at the far end and the study rooms along
the opposite wall. The building also contains a
large meeting room which will be available for use
by community organizations.
completes preparation of the floor for the laying of
carpet in most parts of the building. For the most
part that, along with acoustical tiles, have
replaced 'sushing' librarians as the principal way
to maintain appropriate sound levels.
feature of the new library will be the 'Colonnade of
Freedom' along its north wall. The 10 steel pillars
encased in hand-laid stone represent the Bill of
Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S.
Constitution. The portico formed by the colonnade
will be an outdoor reading and relaxing area when
weather permits. This view is through one of the
large glass windows which make up most of the
building wall on that side.