St. Louis County Library Thornhill Branch

A library reborn

St. Louis County Library Thornhill Branch reopened on Feb. 13 after being completely rebuilt from the ground up

By Charlotte Beard

The Your Library Renewed campaign reopened its 16th facility Feb. 13. Thornhill Branch – St. Louis County Library located at 12863 Willowyck Drive, is the third new branch the project has rebuilt instead of doing a renovation. Proceeds from the passing of Proposition L, a 2012 tax initiative, has funded the campaign for 19 libraries.

Kristen Sorth, Director for St. Louis County Library shared, “When we (started) this program, we did a facilities master plan and had a consultant look at all of our branches and make recommendations on what buildings needed to be replaced. Thornhill was one of those chosen just because the original design did not support the uses of a modern library. So, it was always designated for a complete replacement.”

Thornhill’s staff was temporarily relocated during the library’s closure and returned with the reopening.

“We started construction about four years ago,” stated Sorth. “So, we’ve done 16 in about four years, which is a lot. Thornhill’s budget was $5.4 million. The old location was demolished; this is a brand-new building. It is approximately 20,000 square feet and it has abundant natural light with comfortable seating. It has a large children’s area that is brightly decorated. It also includes children-friendly furniture, interactive learning stations, reading nooks, and porthole windows that lookout into the branch.”

Sorth added that they have also added a children’s outdoor activity area that will open spring of 2019. It will include seating for story-time, art easels, a play structure and over-sized musical instruments.

 “That is a huge change for this branch. It also includes two community meeting rooms and three private study rooms. The branch did not include private study rooms previously. It also has a commons area with tables and a laptop bar and vending machines. Also, there is a great teen space for (teenagers); fun furniture, computers and a collaborative work area for teens to come and use the branch after school, in the evenings, and on the weekends.”

Sorth also mentioned the quiet room. 

“We know that our branches are noisy sometimes because they’re so active and busy. So, we have a really nice space inside the branch where people can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the branch.” 

Sorth shared that St. Louis County Library has a vision of people re-thinking how they view the library. They desire people to see the library as a place they visit all day if desired. They hope that visitors find it to be a fun place with various activities and on-going happenings. Sorth shared that though it is a place that includes books it also has space for kids and teens. Adults should find their usage of any county library to be a new experience with some modern conveniences and more places to sit and use mobile devices.

“We’ve had such a great time with this transformation of our buildings,” stated Sorth, “and we want people to think of the library in a totally different way. We’re excited to have the library open.

CUTLINE: Photos by Kate Edmonson