LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Lexington Public Library on Thursday announced the purchase of the site currently occupied by the Village Branch Library and plans to construct a new, significantly larger Village Branch. The new branch will reflect the community’s vision for a state-of-the-art community hub, one that offers robust resources and a myriad of program and service offerings to better meet the needs of the neighborhoods it serves and our community as a whole.
LPL began the development of a master plan in late 2018 to determine the vision and need for library space and facilities, and to provide a framework and guide for future improvements and growth. The planning process was highly participatory, striving to include as many voices as possible in the development of the plan. During the year-long engagement process, more than 2,400 library staff, stakeholders, and community members engaged in the conversation about the vision for library facilities in Lexington-Fayette County. Overwhelmingly, the community supported a reimagining and expansion of the Village Branch Library as the first step in the future of the Lexington Public Library.
“The Village Branch is a cornerstone in LPL’s systemwide vision,” saidHeather Dieffenbach, Lexington Public Library executive director. “It is well-located but severely undersized. To suit the current needs of the community, and to plan for future growth, Village Library will be reconstructed as a new, signature branch,” she added. Village Branch first opened in 2004 as a fully bilingual location to serve Lexington’s growing Spanish-speaking population.
The next step of the Village Branch project includes hiring an architect and seeking input from the surrounding community on the features and services of the new branch. From there, the current Village Branch, located at 2185 Versailles Road, will be demolished to make space for the reimagined facility. In its place, a new 30,000 s.f., two-story library, which will also offer drive-through services will be constructed. The library began searching for property options in late 2019, prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Village Branch routinely punches above its weight with program attendance and circulation numbers far above what might be expected of a small storefront branch,” said Lexington Public Library Board Chair Lawrence T. Smith. “It has hosted a vibrant homework help program, bilingual GED classes, and employs bilingual staff to help with job search assistance and social services. The opportunity to build a new branch will not only allow Village to address the needs of the immediate neighborhood but will significantly extend its service capacity.”
It is vital that a new Village Branch stay intimately connected with its neighborhood, which has a Hispanic core, as well as a broader, diverse body of low-income residents. Moving the branch out of the walkable range of this user base is not a preferred option.
“For the past 16 years, the Village Branch and its staff have worked to support the Cardinal Valley and Versailles Road corridor. Now, it’s time for us to invest in its long-term future with a new facility,” said Lexington Public Library Foundation Board Chair Erin Serrate. “The new facility will serve as a beacon to everyone in our community while demonstrating the vibrancy and diversity of our community to those entering our city along the Versailles Road thoroughfare.”
The site was acquired by the Lexington Public Library Board of Trustees. Plans for a capital campaign to support the reimagined Village Branch will be announced by the Lexington Public Library Foundation soon.