Previewing the Reopening of the Carmel Clay Library’s Main Branch

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August 2022

This month, we are pleased to offer a sneak peek at the newly renovated Carmel Clay Public Library and would like to thank CCPL Director Bob Swanay and CCPL Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Hamilton for taking our team on a tour of the building and brand new three-level parking garage ahead of the grand reopening celebration that will take place on Saturday, October 1.

The Results After a 2-Year Construction Period

The Main Library project is the result of nearly 3 years of planning. Design and construction took place in partnership with RATIO Architects (Architect), Skillman Corporation (Construction Manager), and the Veridus Group (Owner’s Representative).

As Swanay and Hamilton walked us through building, we noticed that the main entry to the library is now on the north side of the building looking onto Main Street and Carmel High School. The other two primary entrances to the library come in from the first and second floors of the parking garage.

Our team was gobsmacked by the transformation of the library, and it was evident that every square inch of the building is being utilized and maximized for the benefit of its patrons, guests and staff.

Community Room

The new Community Room boasts a meeting and program space that is more than twice the size of the library’s prior Community Room. And it can be divided into two rooms for two separate programs or meetings.

“In the past, our [Community] Program Room was exclusively for the library to use,” Swanay said. “So, that’s a change, as we are going to allow businesses to reserve and rent this space as well as our medium-sized [program and meeting] rooms on the second floor at a ‘business’ rate. Nonprofits can reserve the rooms at no charge.”

The Community Room contains state-of-the art A/V equipment and a kitchenette for lunch meetings, etc. Swanay added that folks are able to bring in any catering services that they wish while utilizing the Community Room.

Hamilton added, “The Community Room will be where attendees of the Guilded Leaf Book & Author [evening] event will come for the first time ever. We’re bringing [the evening event] home, and the Book and Author Luncheon will still be at Ritz Charles.”

Book Lockers

Patrons can access the brand-new book lockers in the garage lounge located on the first level of the new parking garage.

Swanay added, “People will be able to pick up holds and will get a notification from the library that it’s ready to be picked up. All they will need to do is scan their library card and the [book] locker will pop open.”

Parking and Outdoor Space

“There are over 200 parking spaces in the garage and roughly 71 on the surface parking lot beside the garage,” Swanay said. “There are an additional 100 in the West Lot. The green space [west] of the library will be landscaped in September when it cools down, and we’re calling this the Event Lawn. It’s going to be a nice, even grass space, and there will be a row of trees fencing it in. We will have programs in that space, and we can use it year-round. One thing that I’m looking forward to, when it snows here, are the heated walks that when we flip a switch, the snow will melt off.”

Friends of the Library Book Store

Friends of the Library — a fundraising arm of the library — have been given a major upgrade in space and are among one of the more visible features upon entering the library from the main entrance.

“The Friends of the Library are going to able to display a larger collection, and people will be able to browse more easily because it is more open,” Hamilton said. “We’re also doing some branded merchandise so people will come in and shop for books at a great price and pick up a t-shirt, coffee mug or perhaps a water bottle to show their support for the library. The Friends are 100 percent volunteer-driven, and they give the money they make from the bookstore back to the library to support the programming.”

For more information on the Friends of the Library Bookstore and its hours, check CCPL’s website at carmelclaylibrary.org.

The New Digital Media Lab

The new digital media lab rivals some college and university labs and boasts a plethora of technology stations, including 12 Mac stations, several more 3D printers, soundproof rooms and a video creation room.

“Some of the 3D printers will print with different types of materials, such as clay and metal,” Swanay explained. “We’re getting a kiln installed [in the lab] to fire what’s been printed. I think what makes this space unique for the area is that we have specifically trained staff for this area who have different skill sets — some with video editing or 3D printing experience — so, there is a nice mix of skill sets among the digital media lab specialists.”

The Java House

The only thing that makes a brand-new library even better is the addition of a coffee house!

The library was pleased to announce that Java House will provide café service at the expanded Main Library when it reopens. The Carmel-based company will operate the library’s 1,100-square-foot café space, serving their signature cold-brew coffee drinks, as well as tea, hot chocolate and snacks.

Swanay added, “In addition to the ample seating indoors, we plan to have patio seating out here, and people in Carmel love patio seating. So, as people are driving along Main Street, they are going to see a very active library, whereas before it was just a brick façade. And since we’ll be serving high school students as a big part of our patron base, this Java House location will have more food and snack options than its other locations.

Hours of operation will be posted on the Java House’s website as well as CCPL’s.

The Children’s Area

Words can hardly describe the transformation of the Children’s Area, Teen Area and Adult Area. You really have to see for yourself how remarkable these spaces are to fully appreciate them.

“I just love the Children’s Area,” Swanay expressed. “Something that you’ll note — and the big difference from the previous version — is that each of the areas have their own color palette, the Children’s Area being the most colorful.”

The Children’s Area is more expansive and features different tactile play stations such as a “Ranger” playhouse that can be converted into different themes to promote imaginative play and a life-size Lite Brite that all ages can enjoy!

Reopening Carmel Clay Library

The Discovery Room offers a myriad of uses and functional space that can be divided into two spaces. When the Discovery Room isn’t being used for programs, the window wall can be completely opened, and Swanay shared that there will be games and puzzles put out for children to play with.

The Exploration Lab has computers and games and boasts a fun Lego® brick and magnet wall to encourage creative design and hand-eye-motor skills.

There is a ton of fun and unconventional seating throughout the Children’s Area and respective labs. It makes every adult yearn to be a child again!

The Teen Zone

The amount of space that the teens have now is extraordinary and combined with the Digital Media Lab and Java House, they are getting practically their own facility. It is six times more space than the previous teen area.

The seating and décor create a vibe in the Teen Zone that is more mature than the Children’s Area and is a solid blend of funky and sophisticated. The lighting is bright and fun without being blinding, and there are several new study rooms where people will have the ability to reserve them and upon reservation, they will be given a pin code to access the rooms.

“For the first time, we have our own dedicated teen programming space for the [teen] department,” Swanay shared. “It’s set with tables and chairs, but we can break it down and reconfigure it in different ways for art classes, book discussions, ping pong or video game tournaments, etc.”

And for the aspiring young artists, there is a room designated to the Artist in Residence.

Swanay explained, “The idea here is that we will host a teen artist on a quarterly basis who will have this studio space to create and work on their projects. There is some display space on a wall in the Teen Zone that will showcase their work. It’s a great experience for a young artist to have.”

Stay tuned for more information on how to apply for the Artist in Residency!

The Adult Area

Some patrons might think they’re on vacation while visiting the new Adult Area that houses the entire Adult collections on nearly all of the second floor minus the administrative wing.

The Adult Area offers ample seating areas with an assortment of cozy chairs and workstations and a stunning view overlooking the Main Street roundabout. At night, the lights from within will illuminate the library’s north façade, showcasing its architectural splendor!

There are additional meeting or study rooms on this level that can be reserved and accessed with a pin code just like the meeting rooms on the main level.

Hoosier Artists Featured

One of the more fascinating aspects of the new main branch is that it features some exquisite art from local artists! CCPL truly honors some of our state’s greatest artists in this way, and patrons and guests of the main branch will be welcomed by these wonderful works.

As with tradition, the main branch will continue to feature local art on a designated wall on the main level that will rotate on a monthly basis and will be available for purchase through the Friends of the Library Bookstore.

The Children’s Area features a fanciful and colorful wall mural and coordinating bulkhead mural by Huntington, Indiana, artist Bryan Ballinger. And the Teen Zone features a brilliant mural by Connor Heagy.

And patrons and guests entering the library from the upper levels of the parking garage will be welcomed by a massive, commissioned piece by nationally renowned and Indianapolis-based artist Walter Knabe. The unveiling of Knabe’s piece will take place shortly before the grand reopening of the library. Follow CCPL’s social media and website for more information.

Questions for the Main Branch?

The temporary library at Merchants’ Square (2140 E 116th Street) and Digital Media Lab at 23 E Main Street are now permanently closed, but the CCPL staff is standing by to answer your questions.

During this transition period, library staff are available to assist you in person at the West Branch and by phone at (317)814-3965 during West Branch open hours.

Visit the CCPL website for additional information about the main branch’s reopening timeline and related information at carmelclaylibrary.org.