Friends of the Newark
Free Library

Update on New Library Announced at Friends' Annual Meeting

by Susan Gays, FNFL Board Member

An at-capacity crowd of Friends and local officials gathered on April 30 for the Friends’ first in-person Annual Meeting and Thank You Brunch since the pandemic. Guest speaker Diana Brown, Community Services Manager for New Castle County Libraries, and a key leader of the new library project, revealed the selected architectural firm Quinn Evans, as well as the construction management company Wohlson Construction Company, at the meeting.

Diana has been working closely with the Friends and provided an update and projected timeline for the $44 million project. She praised the Friends’ board for stepping up and whole-heartedly committing to a $1 million Capital Campaign to demonstrate our support of the project. Diana noted that in the next few months the New Castle County Project Team will be seeking community engagement and input to identify what library users want to see in the new library and their vision for how it will be used by the community. She pointed out how lucky we are that the state and county collaborate on library projects and costs are shared 50-50, but that a building cannot function as designed if we do

not have the ongoing funding for staffing and operation. The funding issue will be a topic for further discussion with the state and county.

Diana then introduced the Principal Architect for the project, Charles Wray, from the firm Quinn Evans who walked us through their

multi-step design process, including numerous opportunities for community and staff input. Over his 40-year career Mr. Wray has gained extensive knowledge of local and state government processes and regulations. For the past 16 years, he has focused on the planning and design of almost 30 public and academic libraries, among them the recently completed Cecil County Library in North East, Md.  He promotes a holistic approach to the design process.

His wife Shannon Wray, who was unable to attend the brunch, provides design leadership on programming, space planning, lighting, acoustics, finishes, colors, and furnishings, and is committed to library design solutions that are as functional as they are beautiful. The Newark Library is in good hands with this accomplished team.

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