New $8.7M Burkhardt Branch Library to help people ‘soar’

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

A ceremony Friday marking the start of construction on Dayton Metro Library’s Burkhardt Branch in Dayton leaves ground unbroken on just two of 17 rebuilding projects funded by an $187 million bond issue voters approved in 2012.

“We’re excited to officially put stakes in the ground,” said Jeffrey Trzeciak at his first public event as the library system’s new executive director.

The stakes marked where the front door will be positioned on new branch at 4704 Burkhardt Ave., located on property just across Shedborne Avenue from the current library.

Expected to open in the spring of 2022, the new 18,137-square-foot Burkhardt Branch will be more than double the size of the current building. Construction costs are budgeted at $8.7 million with an additional $880,000 going toward property acquisition and demolition, according to the library officials.

Riverside Mayor Peter Williams brought his three sons to witness the groundbreaking.

“They’ll easily be able to walk here,” he said.

Williams said long before social media existed, the Burkhardt Branch is where he made friendships with students spread from the Eastern Hills and Wright View neighborhoods in Dayton to those in Riverside.

“It’s my hope that what this building meant to me as a young man as a kid who loved books and loved being able to walk up here with my brothers after school … it’ll continue to bring people together,” he said.

Trzeciak said the library’s amenities will include a large community room with after-hours access, a flexible opportunity space for activities and exhibits, a conference room and six smaller study rooms. Additionally, the new branch will feature a quiet reading room with a fireplace, dedicated teen space and a children’s area inspired by the theme “soaring beyond.”

As with the other libraries, the new branch will feature commissioned artworks through a continuing partnership with the Dayton Art Institute, said Trzeciak, who will see the system-wide rebuilding project across the finish line following the February retirement of Tim Kambitsch.

Jeanne Holihan, vice chair of the library’s Board of Trustees, said it took a little more patience to obtain the site for the new library, but the new branch “will be just as amazing as all the other branches that we’ve completed.”

The new library is being built on a site cleared of Columbian Hall, a former events venue. Once built, the old library will be torn down to provide increased parking for the new facility.

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

Three-quarters of the projects promised to voters are now completed. The last on the books, a new Huber Heights Branch, is scheduled to open in April 2023. The renovation of the Electra C. Doren branch was the first project and least expensive at $1.88 million. A rebuild of the Main Library, the centerpiece of the system, was completed in August 2017 at a cost of $63 million, according to the library.

Francesca Hary, manager of the Burkhardt Branch, said her library is the last new facility that will be “nestled in a community setting” and not located on a main thoroughfare.

Hary said a focus on upgraded technology at the new branch will help bridge the digital divide for students without internet at home or older job seekers “who did not grow up with a mouse in their hands.”

“It’s s helping equalize, bringing people into the 21st century and beyond, so they can soar,” she said.

About the Author