Track South Branch's Move to the Mall

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Graphic: Mall ProjectFollow a timeline for the South Branch Library's relocation to the Mall of Abilene. The new facility will offer over 20,000 sq ft to increase services.

Friends of the Library Commit $540,000.00 to New Location
Upon the approval of the project by City Council, the Friends' have committed half a million dollars to the costs of opening the location. The Friends' are actively fundraising for this initiative and you can find out ways to support the cause on the Friends' Page.


Phase 1: Planning & Proposals

Graphic: Mall Library LocationJanuary 2015: Lori Grumet (City Librarian) begins public talks on the expansion of the South Branch after meeting with members of the Library Advisory Board and the Friends of the Abilene Public Library Board. As stated by Grumet, addressing the current South Branch space, "that is small, for a library that's offering as many programs and services as this one does. That's a large credit to the staff at this branch, who really work so hard."

February 2015: The Library Advisory Board passes two resolutions in support of potential new library projects, one of which is finding a larger space for the South Branch Library until a permanent south branch library could be established.

March 2015: An official Request For Proposals is sent out to find space for the South Branch containing a list of requirements needed in a future location. These requests were publicized and time was allotted to allow for submissions.

April 2015: After experiencing plumbing issues that closed the South Branch for 2-weeks for repairs, the Request for Proposals period was drawing to a close. Returned proposals are reviewed by a team of volunteers to assess the proposals and select the one that best fits our needs.

May 2015: The South Branch Request for Proposals ends and are reviewed by City Administration. An initial tour of one of the locations was setup at the Mall of Abilene and attended by Lori Grumet (City Librarian), Tremain Jackson (South Branch Manager), Alyssa Crow (Children's Librarian), Robert Hanna (City Manager), James Childers (Director of Community Services), and Lesli Andrews (Assistant Director of Community Services).

William Hidell Associates begins work on floor plan ideas to describe the sites to City Council and the library begins investigative/legal/funding work on site location.

June 2015: A second tour of the mall location was held with members of the Friends of the Library Board and the Library Advisory Board present. The Library Board meets on June 22 and votes, unanimously, to move officially seek the move of the South Branch to the Mall of Abilene.

On June 23, the public is informed of the board's vote to support the lease at the mall and preparations begins to present the proposal to City Council in July. Library staff would work towards fielding community responses to provide all feedback to library administration for review.

July 2015: The City Council meets on July 9 to begin discussions of the proposal in executive session. On July 23, the public was invited to the next City Council meeting to hear the library proposal. James Childers (Director of Community Services) presented the proposal, while Matt Preston (Friends of the Library Board Member) addressed the Friends organizations commitment of $500,000.00 for the move, while raising additional funds.

After answering questions from the City Council, a vote was held that morning and the City Council unanimously voted to sign the lease for moving the South Branch Library to the Mall of Abilene.

The lease will be executed on August 1st, with JLL (management company for the Mall of Abilene), and the South Branch would officially have a new home, pending renovation and moving. The library would be able to spend the next 5-months to prepare the space for the library, and library staff would begin the initial work.

Phase 2: Preparations & Approvals

August 2015: The lease for the Mall of Abilene Location was executed and signed by the City Manager, and then delivered to the Mall Management on August 18. Meetings with the planning committee, overseeing this project, has met to choose a design firm for the new space. Meetings with the selected architect has been set up in September to visit the mall, review the space, and hear ideas and vision for the location to proceed with renovations. Once completed, we will then be able to establish a timeline for completion.

On August 27, City Librarian Lori Grumet, along with South Branch librarians Tremain Jackson and Alyssa Crow met with Bill Hidell and Tony Blaas (the project architect team from Hidell & Associates Architects) in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Tours were conducted of four libraries in the area the firm has designed to see in person what they have accomplished, as well as prepare for the upcoming meet and greet with the Abilene community in September.

Photo: Public MeetingSept. 3, 6PM - 7:30PM: The community is invited to the Mall of Abilene to visit the new location for the South Branch Library. The facility is located next to the J.C. Penney and this will be your opportunity to meet the project architect and share your vision for our new library. If you have grand ideas for what you'd like to see in this new location, this will be the time to come out and share them with us.

110 people from the community attended the design charrette and now contracts with the Architect are in process and should be signed this month. The Friends of the Library have established a Donation Link on their page for anyone who wants to contribute to the South Branch fundraising campaign, which is doing well.

October 2015: The mall project for the future South Branch Library continues to progress. In October, the design team from Hidell Associates Architects met with Lori Grumet, Tremain Jackson, Alyssa Crow, James Childers, Lesli Andrews, and representatives of the Mall of Abilene to see final design layouts. The plans have now been completed and approved, utilizing great ideas shared from the community on what the future space should look.

The Friends of the Library Task Force has also been working hard on promoting the future location by launching community-wide postcard fundraising campaign that is doing very well.

Phase 3: Renovations to Opening Day

Photo: Mall BarricadeNovember/December 2015: A contract has been finalized with Justice Construction for the remodeling of the current space while the Design Development continues. The Friends' fundraising has set the construction budget at $1.3 million, with an additional sum of money to be determined as ongoing contributions are acquired. Such funding will support the purchase of furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the new site. A fundraising appeal was also established and made to Abilene households via flyers distributed through the Abilene and Wylie Independent School Districts.

The construction barricades are now in place for when the demolition of existing interior walls begins, as well as work on the floors and ceilings, adding special lighting, and creating a flow in the design to draw people in. The plans will call for a meeting room, quiet reading space, a dedicated teen room, and plenty of space for all library visitors, with an anticipated opening date of Spring 2016.

February 2016: Progress is being made on the new South Branch Library location. As of this month, the demolition is well underway. City Librarian Lori Grumet was joined by Lesli Andrews (Director of Community Services), Mirenda Walden (Assistant Director of Community Services), members of the Library Advisory Board, members of the Friends of the Abilene Public Library Board, the contractor, and mall representatives for the first swings of the hammer to officially start the demolition process.

With a Fall opening now on the horizon, much work is being done including removing the old duct work for the HVAC system, removing walls, relocating the bathrooms, saw-cutting for plumbing, and more. A design review meeting is planned for the first week in March with the Building Inspection staff and then construction of the new work will begin.

This is an exciting time for the Abilene Public Library, and if you'd like to keep up with the work being done, we encourage you to visit the Mall Project Galleries online. We will be updating the galleries with new photos every week so you may follow us on the journey.

March 2016: Weekly visits to the new space continue to be made by library staff to track progress and provide photo updates to our available galleries online.  Meetings have been held with the architects and Friends of the Library task force to review possible samples and colors for the new space.  At this time, no final decisions have been made.  Two ad hoc focus group with teens was also conducted to share their input on early designs for the teen area, in what will be a dedicated room for this demographic.  Much progress has been made thus far as we near a Fall opening.

April 2016: Construction continues on the new space with the framing having been completed for the teen room, study rooms, and additional areas.  Floor plans of the new space are also available, on display, at the current South Branch Library for the public to view and ask questions as needed.  Meetings have been had to look at the fixtures, furniture, and furnishings plan for the new space while an item will be added to a future City Council meeting for authorizing the use of PEG (Public Education & Government) funds.  These funds will help to fund technology for the new location for use by staff and the public for a number of purposes.

May 2016: Progress has been made on the new space with the framing of the rooms and drop ceilings being almost complete.  Duct work for the HVAC was delivered and is in the process of being installed while electricians are fast at work providing the space with power.  Additional work to come will include the structural steel for the exterior entrance, the beginning of drywall and the completion of the work on the plumbing.

June/July 2016: The construction is going strong with many areas of the facility now being defined as the drywall is nearing completion.  Walls in the facility and fur downs are giving shape and form to the difference areas of the facility and materials are being purchased to stock the facility.  The Friends of the Library have committed an additional $40,000.00 in funding to the South Branch Library.  Currently, the facility is on target for an opening in October 2016.

August 2016: Work is continuing in the new site as the drywall is going up in many places.  The ceramic tile has arrived, the mall entrance has been framed, and the furnishings and equipment have been ordered.  Windows and a new large door have been cut out of the wall on the south side of the building, and concrete work excavation started.  The electricians have also been working with the wiring, and paint colors have been selected.  Glass walls have been ordered and the first measurements for their fabrication have been completed for the Quiet Reading Room, Teen Room, and Private Study Rooms.  Internally, we have been receiving materials for the new location including three additional AWE stations for youth, meeting room tables, chairs, and a podium, and more odds and ends.

September 2016: Preparations have begun for the relocation.  The current South Branch Library location will close on Sept. 20 at 9:00PM, working to move all existing materials to the new location.  Work will then begin on organizing and staging areas of the new facility as they are completed.  An opening date of Saturday, November 19 at 10:00AM has been set for the new mall library location.

October 2016: As of the week of September 26, the South Branch Library successfully moved out of the Danville location.  All materials have been delivered to the new location in the Mall of Abilene as work continues towards finishing the remaining items for the construction.  New furniture has been arriving and staff is working diligently to assist in getting the library ready for opening day on Saturday, November 19 at 10:00AM.  We hope to see everyone there to help usher in this new branch library location to our city.

202 Cedar St.
Abilene, TX 79601
PH: 325-677-2474

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4310 Buffalo Gap Rd.
Abilene, TX 79606
PH: 325-698-7565

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Wed, Fri, Sat | 10AM - 6PM
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1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
Abilene, TX 79603
PH: 325-437-7323

Mon, Tues, Thurs | 9AM - 9PM
Wed, Fri, Sat | 9AM - 6PM
Sundays | Closed

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