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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin’s $4 million library replacement moving along

(Nov. 26, 2015) Adopting a model used before in Ocean City but not elsewhere in Worcester County, the replacement of the Berlin Library is proceeding without the tugs and snags of other county projects.
Pursuing an ultra-efficient building nearly triple the size of the existing library, in use since 1970, is but one of the goals acting Library Director Jennifer Ranck said emerged from a number of meetings with the community.
“We talked about what kind of building the community wanted. We wanted to make it environmentally friendly and we wanted to bring the gardens into the new site — that was really important — and we wanted something that we could use long term and without a lot of maintenance,” she said. “We only get one chance to do it the right way.”
The first right way was a building strategy called “Passivhaus,” which is a European method of construction emphasizing efficiency, but found later some components of the construction were only available in Europe.
“When we first heard about it, we thought it was a new idea. We’re now thinking it’s possible to adapt the same strategies into a different method,” Ranck said.
With construction scheduled to begin next year, the 11,000 square-foot building will follow the form, if not the dictionary definition, of Passivhaus.
Ranck said the change is not a major one, since many of the formal Passivhaus ideas have alternate solutions and would allow the library to provide all the amenities the community desired, including environmental concerns, without the hassle, time, trouble or expense of importing certain items from Europe.
“We did have an expert come in earlier this year to discuss the process with us,” Ranck said. “There are certain aspects we can get and we learned a lot about how to insulate the building, for example.”
Ranck said an included meeting space is vital for the new building, since the existing Berlin Library is the only one in the county without such a space. A gallery, no doubt owing to the town’s decade-old designation as an arts and entertainment sector, will be included as well as an interactive children’s area.
But most of all it’s just going to mean more space, Ranck said. The new building will be more than three times the size of the existing facility.
“We serve Berlin, but also the surrounding areas, and that building certainly sees an increase in use during the summertime. We’ve also had such great turnout for our summer reading events we’ve frequently had to hold them outside, due to the lack of space inside,” Ranck said. “It’s one of our smaller facilities but it’s used heavily.”
With all the new space for events and showcases, however, only modest increases are planned for the library’s collection.
Ranck said there would be about a 15 percent increase in the Berlin Library’s collection in the new building.
The county hired Baltimore construction firm Whiting-Turner to manage the pre-construction phase of the Berlin Library for a total evaluated cost of $383,400.
The next lowest bidder was Salisbury-based Gillis Gilkerson with a bid of $385,520.
In this phase of the project, Whiting-Turner will be expected to handle all of the pre-construction arrangements and will have the opportunity to bid, along with other contractors, for the remaining construction work as it becomes available.
The facility is expected to cost almost $4 million.