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Design for new Porter library complete

COVINGTON - The design for the proposed Porter Memorial Branch Library in western Newton County is complete and the Newton County Library Board of Trustees is taking bids to select a general contractor, Library Director Greg Heid announced this week.

The design was presented to the Board of Commissioners at its Tuesday night meeting.

Heid said the design was based on three principles determined by members of the public who filled out surveys and attended focus meetings.

The three principles are that the library must be tailored to meet the needs of western Newton County residents; be an exciting, warm and inviting place to visit; and be energy-efficient, practical to operate and constructed with durable materials.

Heid said the library will include popular fiction and nonfiction books, DVDs and audiobooks; a full children's section; and a separate room for teens with materials appealing to middle school and high school students. The teen room will be soundproof and monitored by security cameras.

There will also be a soundproof "quiet room" in which patrons can read undisturbed. Newspapers and magazines will be housed in that area, Heid said.

The library will include computers with Internet access and areas for studying and telecommuting, as well as a conference room and a 60-seat meeting room.

There will be a self-checkout desk in addition to a staffed service desk.

The library has been designed to blend in with the natural environment and will include lots of windows and employ natural stone, brick and earthy colors, Heid said.

All heating and cooling ventilation, electrical cabling and data cabling will run through a raised floor.

"Utilizing a raised floor cuts down on the original construction costs, as the entire floor becomes your air handling system," Heid said. "We do not have to run all of the HVAC vents in walls throughout the building. With the air vents in the floor of the library, the system can easily cool or heat the first 8 feet up off the floor, saving us high cooling and heating bills."

The building will be heated and cooled with Energy Star appliances to save on utility costs. It will also be designed to harvest sunlight to further save energy. Windows will comprise nearly the entire north wall to take advantage of natural light. Windows with southern exposure will have light shelves to bounce the incoming rays of light onto the ceiling, giving indirect sunlight to reading and staff rooms.

All light fixtures will have sensors that dim interior lights during the day when the building can rely more on natural sunlight. Once the sun sets, the lights will brighten. In addition, all offices, staff areas, storage rooms, closets and restrooms will have sensors that automatically turn lights on when the areas are occupied and turn lights off when unoccupied.

The library roof will be designed to catch rainwater that will be directed into cisterns in the ground. It will be recycled and used to irrigate landscaping, and some will be filtered and recycled to use in flush toilets.

"With all of the energy-saving, sustainable systems that we are placing in the library facility, and the durable recycled content materials that will be used to construct and furnish the library, we expect to be eligible for a gold LEEDS award of distinction," said Marc Jordan, chairman of the Library Board of Trustees. "Not only is this a prestigious award of recognition, but it is a guarantee that the library can be operated with great long-term energy savings to the community."

The library will be constructed on Ga. Highway 212 between Oak Hill Elementary School and the Oak Hill Fire Station.

Bids are set to close Tuesday, with a general contractor selected by Sept. 30.

A groundbreaking will occur in October, and the building is expected to open to the public in January 2011.

The budgeted cost is $5,014,286, with $3 million funded by impact fees; $2 million through a state grant and the remaining money through private donations.

At 18,000 square feet, the library will be slightly more than half the size of the Covington branch.

"I have seen the design of the future Porter Memorial Branch Library, and I can see that it will be an exciting, user-friendly, state-of-the-art service for the citizens of the western part of Newton County," District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.