Cliff Cave, Weber Road library branches to close for six months during renovations

Officials now intend to finish 10-year projects in six, seven years

This is a rendering provided by the St. Louis County Library of what the inside of the Weber Road Branch will look like once renovations are finished next year.

Photo by swilliams

This is a rendering provided by the St. Louis County Library of what the inside of the Weber Road Branch will look like once renovations are finished next year.

By Gloria Lloyd

The good news for St. Louis County Library patrons at the Cliff Cave and Weber Road branches is that next year, their libraries will be gutted and renovated from top to bottom, essentially transformed into brand-new libraries.

The bad — and perhaps unexpected — news is that the libraries will be closed for six months next year so that those renovations can happen.

In a surprise announcement to the library board this fall, Executive Director Kristen Sorth said that the library’s systemwide renovations are so extensive that all the library’s branches will be closed for six months, in several stages — except Tesson Ferry and Lewis & Clark, which are being replaced with new buildings.

The Weber Road Branch in Affton will close for six months beginning in February or March, along with the Jamestown Bluffs, Indian Trails and Rock Road branches.

During the second stage of renovations, the Cliff Cave Branch in Oakville will close for six months beginning in August, along with the Oak Bend, Natural Bridge, Prairie Commons and Samuel C. Sachs branches.

After Sorth’s announcement of the closings, library board President Lynn Beckwith told Sorth that it is critical that library officials update the public on when their branch is going to shut down and why.

“I don’t think most people will envision our branches being closed six months,” he said.

It’s all part of the library’s Proposition L master plan, under which it is also building the Grant’s View Branch as a replacement for Tesson Ferry. Under the master plan, the library is gutting and renovating every branch that does not get a new building to add features similar to those being built at Grant’s View, including a new entrance, a “living room,” a café, a teen area and expanded children’s area, a single large meeting room and two study rooms.

Instead of a 10-year master plan, the library is now speeding up its timeline and will finish all the Proposition L projects in the next six or seven years, Sorth told the Call.

“We’re trying to create some shapes that also help invite you into the space and bring you into the new space,” architect Tom Diggs from Bond Architects told the library board when he unveiled the preliminary designs for the renovations.

Although the designs for the second stage of renovations have not yet been released, Sorth told the Call that the Cliff Cave renovations will mimic those at Weber Road and the other branches in the first stage.

The Tesson Ferry Library is still open during the construction of Grant’s View, before it will close next fall when the branch’s operations and patrons are set to shift to Grant’s View. Tesson Ferry and its replacement will be the closest libraries open to some of the patrons of Cliff Cave and Weber Road during their own libraries’ renovations.