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What would you like to see in a Northside public library?

Jacksonville Public Library books.
Jacksonville Public Library
Jacksonville Public Library books.

Two community meetings are set for early April to seek community input for a long-awaited public library on New Berlin Road.

The new library, when built, would become the first one on the city's Northeast side between North Main Street and the Atlantic Ocean.

Jacksonville's public library system has only two facilities on the city's North side — a JPL Express Oceanway reserved book pickup locker at the Oceanway Community Center at 12215 Sago Avenue W., and the Highlands Regional library at 1826 Dunn Ave.

Jacksonville Public Library and PQH Group Design are hosting the two meetings to share the design process on the area's first library, then open the floor for questions and suggestions from the crowd, according to a library news release.

There is no projected date of construction, although city officials said it would take between eight and 12 months of design development, followed by about a year for construction. The library is budgeted to cost $19.6 million, although that could change, city officials said.

"We hope everyone who has ideas and questions attends these meetings, as the best decisions are made if the community participates in the design process," Chief Librarian and Library Director Tim Rogers said in the news release. "People use libraries today much differently than in the past. We want to know how we can make this location an integral part of the lives of Oceanway and northeast Duval County residents."

When the city announced the planned library in 2019, it pointed to the "tremendous population growth" in that area around New Berlin and Cedar Point roads. It said that while the reserved book locker system in Oceanway provides some library service to the area, the city recognized the value of giving the community a full library location.

The 10-acre library parcel at 12210 New Berlin Road is less than a mile from New Berlin Elementary School and under 3 miles from Sheffield Elementary School. It is close to several communities including Autumn Point, Cedar Glen, Hickory Hill, Sheffield Oaks and the Villages of Northwood, and is right between the two most densely populated neighborhoods in the area: The Cape and Oceanway.

The public meetings are set for 4 p.m. April 5, and 7 p.m. April 6 at the Spirit of Life Lutheran Church at 2636 New Berlin Road. That is about a mile west of the planned library site. The library system and architect are seeking comment on what residents want when it comes to library materials, spaces, technology and more.

The Jacksonville library system states that it had more than 3.1 million visits last year, as items were checked out more than 4.7 million times at the Main Library and 20 branch locations.

Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years as a radio, television and print reporter in the Jacksonville area, as well as years of broadcast work in the Northeast. You can reach Dan at, (904) 607-2770 or on Twitter at @scanlan_dan.