Joplin celebrates grand opening of new library

A testament to Joplin’s continued resiliency after the community was devastated and decimated by an EF5 tornado in 2011, residents will celebrate the grand opening of Joplin’s new public library with a celebration on June 3.

The new library is not just a symbol for the city’s rebirth. It’s also a cultural center and catalyst for economic development at the “center of it all” with spaces indoors and out to gather, imagine, explore, learn, and be entertained. OPN Architects teamed with Sapp Design Associates of Springfield, Mo. on the design of the library. Sapp authored the design of the exterior, while OPN led the interior design.

Inspired by their experience collaborating with user groups on the design of the Cedar Rapids Public Library – which recently won the prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Service – OPN’s library team and the designers at Sapp led community focus groups and panel discussions and conducted surveys to develop a design that fulfilled Joplin’s goal for the library that would be used in new and unimagined ways.

Services will expand along with the additional space from 35,000 square feet at the former library to 57,800 at the new facility. The final design includes a large central lobby that serves as community gathering space. Off to either side of this lobby are exterior courtyards, one enclosed and the other open to the public with an adjacent outdoor learning classroom and sculpture lawn. Inside, a community room also serves as a storm shelter and other centrally located meeting and community spaces fulfill the city’s collective goal for the library to be a community hub.

Radiating off the lobby are the collection spaces, each under a dynamic sloping roof form that lifts up at the edges of the building to create tall volumes with terrific views and daylight, serving to connect the interior to the exterior and the library to the city of Joplin.

The makerspace houses a 3D printer, lasers for etching, engraving, and cutting, as well as equipment for digital media conversion. A Lego wall encourages budding engineers. The children’s area is interactive in other ways, too, with a mural reflecting favorite children’s titles. Modern décor in the Post Library complements what will be a rotating art gallery leading to a meeting room for up to 200 people. All meeting rooms will be booked online.

The Joplin Public Library was honored for excellence in architectural design with one of six Public Design Awards at the biennial Springfield AIA reception and design awards program in May 2016. Projects are judged by a jury of architectural professionals and a separate public jury consisting of a group of community leaders, arts professionals, and local academics.

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