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Renovations on Syracuse's Central Library begin

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

It's been almost two years since Onondaga County lawmakers approved funding for renovation of the Central Library in downtown Syracuse. Now the first steps in revamping the facility are starting.

The Central Library has been ensconced in the Galleries of Syracuse for 25 years now. When it opened up, the Galleries was a retail hub, that's now morphed into what amounts to an office building. Central Librarian Doreen Milcarek says the facility needs to downsize, a move that will reflect staffing cutbacks and the changing needs of library patrons.

"So the plan is to reduce the overall square footage of the library, and to have more technology, a different design, to accommodate not only what people are asking for now, but as best we can project, future needs."

And yes, that will mean fewer books on the shelves.

"The old style was you buy as much as you think you will need, just in case somebody needs it. The new style is more targeting what we know is in demand, rather than guessing. So there will be hardcover and paperback books, but there will be more resources altogether," said Milcarek.

Renovations could include renting out two floors of the facility currently owned by the county, and creating a street entrance for the public. In coming weeks, the library will retain architectural, engineering, and library consulting services, for a renovation that's been capped at $7.8 million. If all plans are in place, construction could begin in early 2014.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.