A Midland Branch Dream (Project)


A Place of Learning, Creativity & Imagination

As you pass through the doors of the new Midland Branch Boyd County Public Library, you instantly know you’ve entered a special place – a place of learning, creativity and imagination.
It’s a quiet place on this Tuesday morning as you’d expect a library to be. One patron is at the self check-out machine, being helped by a friendly staff member. The laughter of little ones having fun at the branch’s first storytime program in the colorful children’s room is the only sound that punctuates the silence.

The huge lobby has large, circular light fixtures above and colorful, comfortable seating (all wired with charging outlets) below. You stop to marvel at the beautiful, sculptured arch entrance to the children’s room – oversized books with a whimsical, sneaker-clad owl perched atop. Ahead of you is a see-through fireplace that serves both inside and out. Just on the other side of the fire place is a covered patio and beyond it, eventually, an outdoor 150-seat ampitheater.

On your left, just before you enter the patio, are the library’s “stacks” – a huge collection of books, magazines, audio books, music, and movies. These shelves hold about 60% more materials than were housed at the BCPL Kyova Branch which closed in 2021 when the mall where it was located was sold. The stained-glass BCPL circle of books logo was moved from the Kyova Branch into its place of honor over the Midland Branch entrance.

Workers broke ground on the Midland Branch in June 2020, and it opened to the community on Sept. 13, 2021 – just one day past schedule and at a cost of $4.3 million, just 1% over budget.

“It was truly a dream project,” director Debbie Cosper said. “Sure, there were some issues, but we had a great team and immediately solved them.”

Team members included Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects, Trace Creek Construction, KPC Architectural Projects (library furnishings), and, of course, the entire library staff and board.

The state highway department was also a big help. It worked with the library to include two entrances – one from Midland Trail and one from U.S. 60, both positioned where motorists in either direction on the four-lane highway have easy access. And speaking of position, the branch with its multitude of floor-to-ceiling windows is perfectly placed so that direct light from the rising and setting sun doesn’t heat up the majority of the building.

The only room with direct sunlight is the teen room on the far west end of the building. But just draw the shades and teens can still enjoy the inviting reading spaces and gaming systems in the room – even on the sunniest of days.

Individual meeting rooms and/or private study rooms line one side of the lobby. There’s also a space for an audio-visual makerspace – a sound-proof room with a green screen and recording, videotaping, and editing equipment. This room is expected to be operational in early 2022.
The Main Branch has had a makerspace for a couple of years now – where patrons can create, invent, and innovate with 3D printers, laser cutters, engravers, and other tools. Makerspaces fit in with the library’s mission to “provide quality resources and access to information,” Cosper said.

The innovative use of space at the Midland Branch is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the expandable meeting room. It holds approximately 80 people comfortably, with a separate entrance so that it can be used after library hours. This space also includes a good-sized catering kitchen. Open the large garage door at the southern end of this room and voila! The room connects to the spacious lobby, easily accomodating more people. Birthday parties, wedding receptions, and corporate events would be ideal events for the Midland Branch.

A hidden innovation is the branch’s geothermal heating and cooling system which is powered by 70 wells that go 300 feet underground. Cosper said she expects the library to see significant cost savings from the system. The electric bill for Midland’s first month of operation was half that of the Ashland location.

About one-third of the square footage at Midland is for storage and staff use, including a drive-through station to pick up/drop off materials. Everything for the library district’s popular outreach service is also contained here, including the outreach vehicle which has its own garage.

“We’ve tried to think of everything the community might want or need. This library is for them and we believe it will have a great impact for many years to come,” said Cosper, who just started her 18th year as the library director.

“I think we have gone from a ‘come to us’ library to really taking the library out to everyone. I can’t say enough great things about our staff – they come up with wonderful ideas and we figure out how to do it. We do our very best to say ‘yes’ and to stay relevant,” she said. “It makes me happy that we are able touch people’s lives and have a real impact.”