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Library Announces $5 Million Facelift Downtown

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo and Erie County Library approved a $5 million facelift for the downtown central library Thursday.

The two year renovation project is expected to begin as early as next spring on the 40 year old library. And the changes will be dramatic.

It calls for a spacious floor plan with vaulted ceilings, expansive walls of glass and user friendly circulation desks. Add to that an inviting, more accessible rare books area, a bistro style cafe and new childrens' reading area, complete with an urban park theme. Habiterra Architect David Walter says it's a Barnes and Noble approach.

"In the last ten years or so, it's getting more evident that public libraries, to keep up with the Barnes and Nobles and the Borders, really have to update their collections, how they display their collections, and just the ambience of the space, better lighting, better finishes, even how you display the books," said Walter.

Library Director Diane Chrisman also announced she will retire at the end of this year. Chrisman, who was appointed in 1999, is the first woman to lead the library system. She has a 39 year history with the library -- and promises she'll be back.

"We have a wonderful administrative team, and they will carry on this project," said Chrisman. "Although, I'll tell you, I'm going to be here for opening day when they unveil all these beautiful projects -- and they better do a good job, that's all I've got to say."

The library board will begin a national search to replace Chrisman.

In other action Thursday, the board voted to reject the use of internet filters. A committee made the recommendation after reviewing possible implementation of the Children's Internet Protection Act, or CIPA.

The library will revisit the matter after ongoing court appeals of CIPA are complete. Chrisman says it's current internet policy, without filters, has been effective.