National Library Week with President & CEO Tonya Aikens

Architectural rendering of a concept for a new multi-level library on Columbia's Lakefront, placed between the fountain and playground.

By Addison L.

At a press conference on March 30, 2023, County Executive Calvin Ball and Howard County Library System (HCLS) President & CEO Tonya Aikens were joined by Governor Wes Moore to announce the proposed location and design for the new Library at the Kittamaqundi Lakefront. To learn more, you can visit our website for FAQs, watch a newly released video from Dr. Ball, or listen to the library’s latest Hijinx podcast.

In the latest episode of Hijinx, Tonya Aikens and Addison Landers discuss how the Lakefront Library builds a future that belongs to everyone. Tonya addresses how the new library will serve children preparing for kindergarten, teenagers looking for a space to call their own, and lakefront visitors in need of public amenities. The new Library brings the branch up to Maryland minimum standards of 1 square foot per county resident. Tonya believes that libraries are not just about books, but they are for people. Placing the person at the forefront of the library allows for re-imagined inter-generational spaces, like literacy kitchens that promote STEAM concepts and wellness for the community. The podcast addresses architect Thomas Heatherwick’s radically human buildings and how the design will seamlessly merge public education, community space, and nature. Finally, you hear firsthand how the creative change in location includes more housing, state funding, gifted lands, and a home for the new library location in some of the county’s most desirable real estate.

The Top Five Things to Know about the Lakefront Library

1. The new Lakefront Library will be built on important and valuable undeveloped site in Howard County. The lakefront is the community’s heartbeat and gathering place. Placing the new Library there provides more public space and is a tangible representation of commitment to and investment in County residents and visitors. Thomas Heatherwick’s design of the Lakefront Library will complement the dynamic architecture of iconic architect Frank Gehry.   

2. A new, larger Central Library has been a part of the Downtown Columbia Plan since it was unanimously adopted by the County Council in 2010. The current branch is undersized, not only for current residents, but also for the anticipated population growth called for in the Plan. A minor renovation of the building in 2016 addressed structural, end-of-life, interim fixes, and transformed staff space into public space.

3. The Lakefront Library design includes a parking structure with approximately 500 parking spaces, more than double the number on the site today and the first truly public parking lot/garage at the Lakefront (current parking is owned by Whole Foods).

4. This investment in public education for all comes from a variety of sources, including private donors, the State of Maryland, grants, General Obligation (GO) Bonds, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF revenue generated by the area’s development is intended for the creation of public spaces, transit improvements, parks, and parking. This funding mix requires less County funding than when the library was planned for the Merriweather District.
The Library building: $94M
Site work and public parking: $38.5M
Library park and transportation improvements: $10.3M

5. Learn more about the project and read FAQs, and voice your support through written testimony or at County Council hearings.

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