New Castle County held a public meeting at Appoquinimink Community Library Nov. 18 to present their exterior design plans and amenities for the Southern New Castle County Library.

The new library in Middletown has a goal: be the gateway between the historic and developing parts of town.

The county held a public meeting at Appoquinimink Community Library Nov. 18 to present exterior design plans and amenities for the Southern New Castle County Library coming in 2022.

Diane Brown, a staff member of the New Castle County Library Advisory & Review Board, said people who went to the previous two meetings wanted a library that acts as a place of lifelong learning and a combination of the developing modern part of Middletown and the historic downtown.

“People who participated in the previous meetings talked about it as a gateway, a transition zone as a way blending the historic with the modern,” she said.

Derek Jones, the design architect from Perkins and Will, said the architectural design from his company and Tetra Tech is meant to follow the blending concept. 

The building was originally set to open in 2021, but the county wants to have the proper amount of time for public feedback.

The 27,000-square-foot library will sit at the northwest corner of East Main and Catherine streets. The second phase of the plan includes a 40,000 square-foot building. Jones said the library will have two entrances for the foot traffic coming from downtown West Main Street and another from the parking lot. The parking lot will have 106 spaces and 32 overflow spots on the new West Green Street Extension.

Brown said one of the goals is to make it accessible for all modes of transportation, including walkers, bikers and public transit users, but they will focus on making it driving friendly.

“Overwhelmingly people believe they will be driving,” Brown said. “There are some people who will be taking transit, some people walking, but it’s really important that this is a vehicle or car accessible space.”

Another road tentatively called Library Avenue will be off East Main Street. Both roads will be paved at the same time as the building construction.

The property at 204 E. Main Street — west of the post office — has been vacant for years, and MOT residents would know the location as “Middletown Stonehenge” because of the concrete sewer connectors and pipes dotting its landscape.

Sustainability was a major focus for the exterior and interior, which skylights and large windows to increase the use of natural light instead of artificial and an underground HVAC system.

The air conditioning focuses on cooling the lower half of the room, where people will be, and lets the top half of the room to be warmer.

“It’s more than reducing energy,” Jones said. “It’s about improving health and wellbeing.”

Two public meetings earlier this year focused on the amenities and programs.

Brown said people were looking for a community-centered and peaceful place and hands-on childhood learning and instructional programs.

Based on suggestions from the public, the library will have large conference and small group meeting rooms. Rooms designed for technology-focused programs, such as media production, are in the plan.

Separate book sections for children and adults will be included.

Brown said the plan is subject to change as new ideas are presented.

The library is expected to break ground in 2020.