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Officials break ground on Route 9 Innovation Center

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

Work on the Route 9 Innovation Center in New Castle is now underway. Officials broke ground on the facility Tuesday.


In an area of New Castle that’s seen community schools and services close down or dry up, residents and officials are hoping that the expansive new building will reinvigorate the area.

Sophia Hanson, general manager of New Castle County’s Department of Community Services, says the project, which will include a digital first library, is sorely needed in this portion of the county.


"They closed a lot of the schools and if you come here after school, there’s one community center. But there’s no library, which is a resource where you can do your research," said Hanson.

Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) also pointed to libraries' increasing role as community centers, and resource for job searchers.


“The way that we think about libraries is evolving," said Markell, who called the $22 million price tag on the Innovation Center an investment in the future of the community.


Hanson says her team modeled the new library after ones in Denmark, which are considered the best in the world.

"That’s where we got the idea for our scriptorium, which I think is going to be a major draw to the Route 9 library. It’s a room dedicated to writing, but with visual inspiration. So you’ll see images of Langston Hughes, Ezra Jack Keats, and Virginia Woolf. And we’ll offer specific writing and reading programs out of that space," she says.


The new library will also feature vocational labs, a Lego room, an area for teenagers, a cafe and kitchen.


And there will be a sensory room for children on the autism spectrum.


Hanson says her team hopes to have the Center completed by December 2016. The $22 million project is a collaboration between the state and New Castle County.