The largest public library in Lithuania is facing huge changes - the building of Kaunas County Public Library (Radastų str. 2) is going to be reconstructed. The library building will be adapted to the needs of the community, people with disabilities, new spaces will be opened and new services will be offered.

The library community was involved

When planning what the library should be like after the reconstruction, the Kaunas city community was involved – ideas were suggested by residents and library visitors, partners and employees. During the planning of the reconstruction project, various surveys about the spaces and services of the dream library were organized as well as focus group meetings, discussions, etc. The suggestions of the community, employees, specialists and the architect who designed the building were taken into account, and the project was discussed with the public.

"Library is facing a difficult stage – the reconstruction of the building. With relatively little time and resources, we will not only have to renovate the library building, but also make the library spaces attractive to the public. We strive for the vision of the new library to meet the needs of the society, ” said Edvardas Liakas, deputy director for Infrastructure of Kaunas County Public Library.

Renovation of the library building and environment

Construction work will begin in 2021. Reconstruction work is planned to be completed within two years.

During the reconstruction, the building located at Radastų str. 2, will not be working, visitors will be served at K. Donelaičio str. 8. Other premises are being searched for the administrative work of library staff and activities not related to visitor service.

After the reconstruction of the library building, savings of 44.45% will be achieved due to decreased heat energy consumption and improved energy efficiency characteristics of the building.

The reconstructed library building will be equipped with modern fire extinguishing and detection systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which will maintain a proper microclimate in the library for readers and staff, and document storage will ensure the right temperature and humidity to store publications. Changes will also be made to the engineering electrical system: new electricity and water supply electrical systems will be installed, sewage and rainwater drainage systems will be replaced, and a building management system will be installed. The library spaces will be renovated with interior finishing work to maintain some of the authenticity and implement modern solutions along a single design line.

In order to renovate not only the building itself, the interior spaces, but also the library environment, the help of Kaunas City Municipality was requested. At the initiative of the Mayor of Kaunas and his team, the Small Oak Grove, where the library building stands, and the surrounding territory will be managed in a complex together with Oak Park (Oak Grove). The issue of parking spaces near the library will also be resolved during the management of the park. By cleaning up the environment, the library will become even more attractive to visitors.

The library will become a modern cultural space

A children's and family leisure center will be located in the renovated library building, where book presentations and excursions will be organized. Not only children, but also their parents will be able to spend their free time in the center – various events will occur. The Youth Reading Room will be adapted to the needs of young people aged 12-16. Educational and creative classes and lessons in non-traditional space will take place in the educational space for children and teenagers. There will be open creative workshops in Makerspace for children, young people and others who want to implement their ideas and like to do handicrafts.

A center for the restoration of documentary cultural heritage will be located in the library, which will ensure the preservation of old and rare prints in the library for future generations. The library has accumulated a unique 200 thousand copies document fund, which consists of the mid 15th century – 1945 printed matter, exceptional examples of publishing, manuscript documents. Books and virtual exhibitions will be organized on the basis of a consistent analysis of the fund.

A digitization center will be set up, which will create conditions for placing the library's unique, rare and valuable documents on the portals and, this way ensuring free access for every user to documents not only in Lithuania, but also worldwide. Through its digitization activities, the library contributes to the preservation, access and dispertion of the documentary cultural heritage. As a regional digitization center, the library will help regional libraries to preserve cultural heritage and ethnography objects.

During the reconstruction, special modern storage facilities for the archival copy of the national press will also be installed. Its accumulation and the preparation of a national retrospective bibliography have become distinctive features of the library.

Modern reading rooms will become more spacious and comfortable for visitors, modern event and conference halls, educational spaces will be adapted to the needs of Kaunas residents.

The educational space will be used to meet the self-realization needs of different user audiences: creative workshops, club activities, various educational activities and other activities.

The renewed Old Book Museum will invite you to get acquainted with the constantly changing expositions. The museum will host thematic excursions, and educations will be organized for students to supplement formal education programs.

The library will be rich not only with books but also with modern technology. A book machine will be set up at the library access, which will allow users to pick up ordered and return read books at a time convenient to them, even after library hours. It will be a completely new service that will make it easier for working, busy residents to access library funds.

A media art and sound recording studio will be set up with all the necessary equipment so that anyone who wants to come to the library can implement their creative ideas. In the library, it will be possible to reveal not only creative but also ICT skills through video creation and processing programs, learning to take photographs, creating music or other sound recordings, controlling the drone or immersing oneself in virtual reality.

The library will become more attractive to students and freelancers. Even on several floors there will be individual and group work spaces. Those who want to work without outside noise will be able to reserve an individual work cabin. It will also be possible to reserve spaces of various sizes for group work.

It is planned that in the library it will be possible to enjoy light or sound therapy in the lounges, enjoy snacks in the cafe, read, communicate and admire the views of Oak Grove and Žaliakalnis – on the terrace on the roof of the library.

"We hope that the library will become an attractive and modern cultural space of Kaunas and after renovation of the building, we will attract more visitors," says E. Liakas.

The reconstruction of the library is financed from two sources

„Library building located at Radastų str. 2, renewal by increasing thermal energy efficiency” project is financed under Priority 4 of the European Union Funds Investment Operational Program 2014–2020 “Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Production and Use” 04.3.1-VIPA-V-101 measure “State ownership renovation of public buildings“.

The project “Modernization of Kaunas County Public Library” is financed under Priority 7 of the European Union Funds Investment Operational Program for 2014–2020 “Promoting quality employment and participation in the labor market” No. 07.1.1-CPVA-V-304 measure “Modernization of cultural infrastructure”. Work will be done related to improvement of services and renovation of the technical condition of the building by installing microclimate, ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

The total value of project financing is 11.3 million EUR.

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