The Lancaster Public Library is gearing up for an $8.5 million capital campaign to revitalize its aging facility.

The project, which is still in its early stages of planning, includes a possible expansion as well as reconfiguration of the library’s existing layout.

That likely means vacating the premises for a while, according to Jennifer Wiggin, director of development for the city library.

“We would have to leave the library for this to happen,” Wiggin said Tuesday. “We would have to find alternate housing for a couple of months.”

Specifics on the plan are still vague, however; Wiggin noted that she’s still embroiled in a feasibility study, and library officials are meeting with foundations and other supporters to build groundwork for the campaign.

Wiggin said the $8.5 million target was only an estimate based on preliminary studies. The number will be revised as plans for library renovations come into focus.

She’d like to have $4 million to $4.5 million promised toward the campaign before it goes public, she said during a meeting of library directors Tuesday. Close to $3 million has already been pledged.

The campaign, according to an executive summary of the project proposal, would lead to a transformation of the “stately but aging structure into a vibrant, first-rate resource for community residents of all ages and economic backgrounds.”

The library building, at 125 N. Duke St., is 60 years old and is plagued with physical woes.

“In 2013, more than 500,000 visitors passed through its doors, only to enter a building with a leaky roof, poor lighting, inadequate temperature control, inadequate and poorly configured space, little seating and a collection which has grown to more than three times its original size,” the summary states.

Initial architectural drawings are scheduled for completion by June. Library officials anticipate hiring a construction firm next January, with completion of the project by late summer 2016.

The plan calls for renovating and reconfiguring its existing 43,000-square-foot facility as well as adding as much as 17,000 square feet on the east side of the building.

Other features of the plan include:

• Install additional public-access computers.

The summary notes that the library in 2013 provides more than 10 million free Internet minutes to patrons. Some 40 percent of city residents lack access to the Internet at home, the summary states, so the library is often the only option for people needing access.

There are nearly always waiting lines for the 22 public-access computers on the first floor of the library, as well as eight in the basement reference area and several in the children’s room.

• Increase the size of the Duke Street Business Center, which provides resources for people hoping to start a new venture or grow an existing enterprise.

• Expand and renovate the children’s area.

The summary calls for “a variety of bright and stimulating spaces” for children and their caregivers to enjoy quiet reading as well as group activities. A large meeting room will be added for exclusive use of Children and Teen Services.

• Create an area dedicated for teen use.

The teen hub will house an expanded book collection, provide individual study spaces and hold programs for teenage patrons.

• Dedicate an area for seniors.

• Provide outdoor spaces with educational opportunities such as urban farming, a seed library, patio gardens, a children’s garden and environmental programs and classes.

• Incorporate an ADA-approved entrance on Duke Street to accommodate patrons with handicaps as well as parents with strollers, who otherwise must use the back-alley entrance.

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Tom Knapp is a general assignment reporter whose coverage includes Lancaster County heritage, entertainment, libraries and animals. He can be reached at or (717) 481-6107. You can also follow @TKnapp66 on Twitter.