BLOOMINGDALE - Those who haven't been inside a library in a while might find something surprising inside the Bloomingdale Regional Library: a crowd.
Despite the vast leaps in technology in recent years, Hillsborough County's brick and mortar libraries are still a draw for the communities they serve. As a result, the county is expanding three of them, including the one on Bloomingdale Avenue.
When work is completed in December, the library will have doubled in space to 20,0000 square feet.
The extension of the building is now under way. Once that is complete, the new children's room will move in - it is twice as big as the current children's library. The old space will be renovated for use as a larger store for the Friends of the Bloomingdale Library volunteer group and for a technology room where people can gather to work on projects, said Branch Supervisor Eloise Hurst.
The technology room, which will include a big-screen television that can be connected to computers, also serves as a space where teenagers can come in, use the internet and hang out with their friends after school, Hurst said. She said the Bloomingdale library, because of its close proximity to Bloomingdale High School, gets a lot of teen visits after school from kids ready to volunteer for scholarship hours or just pass the time with friends.
In summer, the library gets more visits from families with younger children, who will use the new children's room, Hurst said.
The expansion also includes more space for community meetings. A new community room will give more space for voting machines and can also be partitioned off for use by more than one group at a time.
And there will be a vending cafe, where patrons can go for a drink or a snack.
"It'll be like a Border's or something," only no books will be allowed in the cafe, said County Senior Architect Mansour Yazdi.
Despite the growing use of e-books, the library remains busy, Hurst said. People download software for e-books, then come into the library and download the books to their tablets or e-readers. In some cases, Hurst said, patrons don't even have to come into the library. They can download the books on line.
Still, Hurst said there is high demand for space at the library by those coming for the many programs offered and those who need community meeting space.
The $2.1 million project - both the expansion and renovations - should wrap up near the end of the year, Yazdi said.
In addition to the expansion in Bloomingdale, the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library and the Upper Tampa Bay Library, both in Tampa, are also undergoing expansions, Yazdi said.