Waldo Branch Library is a single room that serves as a catch-all for crafting, computer classes and the excited chatter of children during storytime.
With an upcoming expansion, though, the Waldo branch of the Alachua County Library District will move into a building that is five times larger, said Nickie Kortus, the marketing and public relations manager for the Alachua County Library District. Construction on the new space began in September and it will tentatively open in April 2019.
The new location, at 15150 NE U.S. Highway 301 in Waldo, was previously home to a Dollar General store, Kortus said. The library district will pay $815,000 to renovate the existing building into a new library.
The new space will be 8,100 square feet, Kortus said. The library district will use part of the building for storage, with 5,000 square feet remaining for traditional library use.
The fate of the current library building has not been determined by city officials from Waldo, Kortus said. However, it is certain that it will no longer be a library once the new building opens.
The 12 libraries in the district offer more than just books, Kortus said. They offer a wide range of programs, including sewing, yoga and computer training.
The new space will allow the library to provide resources like 12 new computers, Kortus said. This will allow for one-on-one computer training to teach basic computer literacy skills, like setting up an email or filling out an online job application.
“By doing this in the local library you allow people to come in and share their skills, their knowledge and learn from others,” Kortus said.
Before the expansion, the Waldo library housed larger events in places like the community center and outside, Kortus said.
In 2017, the number of patron visits to the library increased by six percent, said Kerry Dowd, the Waldo library branch manager. Program attendance during that time increased by 77 percent. The new space will help with this need, she said.
She is particularly excited about the addition of a new ARTspace, which will be used for crafting, Dowd said. There has been a push for libraries throughout the area to have spaces for making creations.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer so much more for this area,” Dowd said.