In the works for more than a decade, the new Crozet Library is on schedule to open this fall, officials said, but it's still missing some vital assets: books.
The current library features about 30,000 books, said John Halliday, director of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system. The collection is expected to expand to about 75,000 books by September 2014, roughly a year after the library is expected to open.
The facility is going up at the corner of Library Avenue and Crozet Avenue, about a third of a mile away from the current library on Three Notch'd Road.
Albemarle County is spending $5.8 million on the project. But that only covers the cost of the building. Furnishing it and filling the shelves will require private money.
After the county approved the plans in 2009, the Friends of the Library set a $1.6-million fundraising goal for new furnishings and books, said Bill Schrader, the group's treasurer.
“And we’re about halfway there,” Schrader said.
So far, the Friends have collected approximately $775,000, including donations from almost 500 individuals, a $100,000 matching grant from the Dave Matthews Band’s Bama Works Fund, a $100,000 matching grant from the local Perry Foundation and a $125,000 state grant.
Construction is expected to be substantially completed by mid-July, followed by a 30-day period before reaching final completion, said senior project manager Ron Lilley.
The work is being done by MB Contractors out of Roanoke.
When the county approved the project, public money was appropriated for everything from new classroom facilities to conference rooms, but books, technology and furniture were never in the county’s budget, Lilley said.
At 18,300 square feet, more than 16,000 square feet larger than the current facility, the new Crozet Library will have a lot more space to fill.
“But that’s on the Friends to provide,” Lilley said.
Since October, Mudhouse coffee shops have offered a special Build Crozet Library roast that contributes $2 for every pound sold.
“And they’re just one local group doing their part,” Schrader said. “... Brownsville Elementary School is going to have an assembly and give us a check for $2,000. The Lions Club has been very, very helpful, too. They’ve been raising money through pancake suppers for large-print books.”
"We're very pleased with all the schools and churches and local organizations that have donated money,” Halliday said.
Money already has been allocated for new furniture for meeting rooms and children’s areas, along with 40 computers for public use, Halliday said.
The library also will feature a circulation desk carved by Crozet woodworker Dan Hunt of Greenewood Studios.
“The desk, which costs over $20,000, will be the library’s central piece of furniture,” Halliday said.
That piece is expected to be added in the first week of August. Bookshelves are expected to arrive in the second week and seating and furnishings in the third.
“The fundraisers at this point have pretty much covered all of the furnishings and the equipment,” Halliday said.
That still leaves the need for 45,000 more books, which has been the focus of fundraising efforts in recent months.
“We scheduled the fundraising over a two-year cycle,” Schrader said.
Empty shelves don’t worry county Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek, she said.
“We are all just tremendously glad that this project that has been on the planning books since 1998 is now a reality,” she said.
Supervisors plan to meet this month to talk about how to fill the leasable space on the facility's first floor. The library will occupy the second floor.
“We’ve had many grand ideas,” Mallek said. “The focus of the first floor is definitely to be a hopping place, an active environment, not just to be a static display.”
Mallek wouldn’t provide details, but said she’s spent the last several months discussing the project with different parties, including an unidentified business, as well as organizations interested in installing a western Albemarle visitor center in the open space.
It's a community effort, Mallek said.
“The community has just been so supportive. They really cannot wait,” Mallek said.
“It’s just been really nice to see how the local community has come together and done everything they can to support the local library,” he said. “No, it’s not just nice. It’s exciting. It’s way past nice.”
Donations to the new Crozet Library may be made by check payable to Friends of the Library, with "Crozet" indicated in the memo line. Donors should include their name and address. Checks should be sent to the Crozet Library Furnishings Fund, c/o Friends of the JMRL, 1500 Gordon Ave., Charlottesville, VA 22903. To learn more, visit www.buildcrozetlibrary.org.