New South Norfolk Memorial Library Opens
The new South Norfolk Memorial Library opened on July 8, 2013 to rave reviews from all who attended the ceremony. Mayor Alan Krasnoff presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony along with Council Members Suzy Kelly, Robert Ike, Lonnie Craig and Dr. Ella Ward, Library Board Chairman and South Norfolk Historian Raymond Harper and Library Director Betsy Fowler. Over 1,200 people visited the building on opening day to check out the new bookstore style format. Since opening, the average attendance has been over 800 patrons per day, which is double the number who routinely visited the old facility.
Former Library Director Betsy Fowler, who retired a few days prior to opening the building, came back as a volunteer to see the project through to the grand opening. Betsy worked closely with the architectural firm HBA to design an attractive, contemporary facility that provided a comfortable setting combined with an inviting browsing experience. She used wood shelving and display tables, purchased from Borders bookstores that were closing in Virginia Beach and Newport News, to create a true bookstore feel in the new library. The result is a place that invokes comments such as “Fabulous” and “Awesome” when patrons walk in the door.
Ms. Fowler estimates the savings on furnishings, obtained at a deep discount from Borders, to be approximately $250,000. The savings are calculated based on library furniture currently available for purchase. The part that is hard to place a value on is the quality of the furnishings. The items from Borders were all custom made solid wood shelving and display tables which are not generally available for the public to buy. Plus the Library staff acted as its own middleman with vendors providing other furniture items, saving about another $50,000. The savings enabled the staff to select a higher quality of interior furnishings that are made to last.
The new library is a first for the Chesapeake Public Library System. Located in the Gateway Building at SoNo, the library serves as an anchor for the revitalization project of South Norfolk. The building is a mixed use facility with retail and residential space. The trendy bookseller look created in the Library fits perfectly with the upscale feel of the Gateway Building. The Library has some other firsts: a drive-thru window for picking up and returning materials, a café space that will be operated in partnership with the Community Services Board, and Early Literacy computers for young children provided by the Chesapeake Public Library Foundation.
The interior of the new library was designed by HBA Architecture & Interior Design, Inc. of Virginia Beach and constructed by MGT Construction of Richmond, Virginia. The library is over 17,000 square feet, more than double the size of the previous building, and features:
The South Norfolk Memorial Library is open 7 days per week. Check the library website at www.infopeake.org for the hours.