SALINE, MI – As Saline’s library building turns 30, it’s gearing up for a roughly $4 million set of renovations, bringing improvements inside and out.

Construction will get underway in June on the expansive set of upgrades to the Saline District Library at 555 N. Maple Road, library officials announced in mid-March.

The plans call for a new outdoor pavilion and paved trail on the library grounds, more study rooms, larger space for teenagers, increased seating and a drive-thru service window to pick up reserved materials, among other changes, according to the library.

The building, built in 1994, was renovated some 16 years ago, then almost doubled in size, according to Saline District Library Director Karrie Waarala.

“It’s served us well. “It’s a good sized library for our community, but library services have changed so much since then that we really need to think differently about how we use the space,” she said.

Take the library’s “ETC Collection,” a wide range of items including everything from lawn games to ukuleles, some now arranged on a table in the library. Recently, Waarala said, a patron asked if the collection was the lost and found.

“It just doesn’t have a home because you can’t fit a telescope or a metal detector or a sewing machine on a standard book shelf,” the library director said. The renovations will change that.

They’ll bring a number of other interior improvements, too, including new adult and youth reference desks, a new front desk, a new fully accessible non-gendered restroom, two new program rooms, two new study rooms, a new common area and a new home for the Friends of the Library Corner Book Shop in what is now the Brecon Room, according to a library summary of the renovation plans.

Saline District Library 2024 renovation renderings

Renderings from the Quinn Evans architectural firm show planned renovations at the Saline District Library, 555 N. Maple Rd. in Saline, set for construction between June and December 2024.Provided by Saline District Library

The changes stem from the library’s 2022-2026 strategic plan, finalized in late 2021, Waarala said. It calls for the optimization of library spaces as “far and away” the top priority, the library director said.

The library hired the Quinn Evans architecture firm to create a concept for the renovations, and the library’s board ultimately decided to proceed with the project, she said.

The cost of the renovations is coming entirely from the library’s reserves set aside for capital projects like this one, and it won’t require additional taxpayer funds, according to the renovations summary.

The Friends of the Saline District Library is also committing $100,000 to the effort, according to the library.

The changes are guided by what library officials learned emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, Waarala said.

They found the library’s public computer stations were almost never full and the space could be better utilized, she said. Some patrons also got into the habit of putting materials on hold and picking them up, and the library’s architects say the building’s current book-drop could be a perfect spot for a drive-thru window.

“It was kind of a no-brainer to add that level of service,” Waarala said.

The renovations don’t stop at the library’s walls.

Outside, a new pavilion is planned for outdoor programming, alongside a paved plaza with exterior seating and a paved trail around the library, in addition to new landscaping and a rain garden area.

Saline District Library 2024 renovation renderings

Renderings from the Quinn Evans architectural firm show planned renovations at the Saline District Library, 555 N. Maple Rd. in Saline, set for construction between June and December 2024.Provided by Saline District Library

The library, set on some 13 wooded acres, would like to use the outdoor space more. But now its lawn isn’t accessible, making it difficult for strollers, walkers or wheelchairs, Waarala said, adding that the renovations aim to change that.

“It will really be a more outdoor space to do more outdoor programming, and we’re hoping that the public will feel comfortable using it to sit and have a picnic or something if it’s not in use by the library,” she said.

Construction is set to start June 10 and run through December. Working with its architects and construction managers McCarthy & Smith, Inc., the interior work will be divided into three phases in order to keep the library open as much as possible, according to the renovations summary.

That means at times sections of the library will be off-limits, and it may occasionally be closed altogether, Waarala said. “We do want to maintain library services as much as we possibly can.”

So far, the community’s reaction to the renovation plans has been very positive, the library director said.

“They’re very excited about the kinds of changes we’re making, so it’s really great to have that community support behind it,” she said.

Want more Ann Arbor-area news? Bookmark the local Ann Arbor news pagethe Ypsilanti-area news page or sign up for the free”3@3 Ann Arbor” daily newsletter.