In addition to restoring Sunday hours, trustees for the Westerville Public Library agreed last week to hire a Columbus architectural firm to study possible improvements to the children's area, parking lot and facilities.

In addition to restoring Sunday hours, trustees for the Westerville Public Library agreed last week to hire a Columbus architectural firm to study possible improvements to the children's area, parking lot and facilities.

The moves were made possible by voter approval of a 2-mill levy in November.

At its Jan. 24 meeting, the board of trustees authorized DesignGroup to spend no more than $24,000. The firm has designed a number of local civic projects, including the new Franklin County Courthouse Downtown and the Columbus West Family Health and Wellness Center.

"We're really looking at renovating our youth department to make it more engaging for children as well as the teen center," executive director Don Barlow said. "With computers and the Internet, people are using the library even more and we certainly want to make it more inviting and also help with childhood development."

DesignGroup is to report back to the board within the next few months.

Also being considered are roof repairs and the replacement of an aging heating and cooling system. One system dates back to 1955.

"We need to look at these improvements and make sure they're feasible," board president Jack Shinnock said. "The study will look at options and what the cost might be. I know (DesignGroup) is familiar with the library and they know what we're trying to accomplish."

The improvements come at a time when the library is ranked as the fourth-busiest in the state.

Westerville voters last November approved a 2-mill levy, which is allowing the library to restore Sunday hours, hire employees to fill vacant positions, purchase more materials and bring back more programs.

"Money from the levy will really allow us to get back to where we were before the cuts in the state budget," Shinnock said. "These are some of the areas we thought we could look at improving. I know reopening the library on Sundays is a big deal for us and the voters."

Sunday hours from 1 to 6 p.m. will be restored on March 4.

The levy replaces an existing 0.8-mill levy that expires at the end of this year. It will cost $61.25 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value. Voters approved it two years after the library slashed its budget to make up for state funding cuts.

Prior to November, the levy was last renewed in 2007. Later that year, state funding, which accounted for 70 percent of the library's budget, was cut by 32 percent.

"We've made a lot of cuts and we've had 12 positions we haven't been able to fill," Barlow said. "Along with that, we need to restore our materials and the levy money should help us do that and purchase more books."