Every so often, Community Library patrons are surveyed for input. The surveys ask patrons how well the library serves them, what items would they like to see in the library’s collection, and what new or expanded services are requested.
At the top of the list over the years have been a need for additional meeting space, quiet study areas, additional parking, and a drive-through pick-up and drop-off window.
Now that a $1.2 million Community Library expansion was recently completed, library patrons now have all four items on their wish list.
The expansion began last spring and was slated to be complete by the end of 2016, but a few punch-list items delayed the project’s completion.
The library was open throughout construction, except for a few days when the roof was open, but Community Library Director Chauncey Montgomery said it’s time for community members to celebrate the library’s new look, including an additional 2,000 square feet added to the building’s existing 14,000 square feet.
“We’re excited to announce that Community Library’s year-long addition and renovation project is coming to a close,” Montgomery said. “To celebrate, we would like to invite the public to our Grand Re-opening of Community Library from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.”
Montgomery said during the grand re-opening, all areas of the library will finally be open for the community to see the changes, including new group study rooms, a larger public meeting room, and a drive-through window.
Montgomery said there is a smaller front desk and self-checkout stations, exterior lockers for people to pick up books they’ve ordered but can’t pick up until after regular library hours, and 14 additional parking spaces – 12 of them on the west side of the building.
“This addition came about as part of our 2008 feasibility study and plan for the building that would have added 8,000 square feet to the library,” Montgomery said. “Then the recession hit and that plan was shelved. As the economy picked up, we started updating our strategic plan. The community said they wanted more meeting room space and a drive-through, so we went back to the designer, who completed this downsized plan.”
Montgomery said the best part about the library expansion project is the ability to pay cash.
“Community Library started a major capital fund when it was built 22 years ago,” Montgomery said. “Any money left over at the end of the year was moved to that account, allowing us to do this without going to the community for additional funds. This happened because we have local support that made saving possible, especially since the state reduced funding to libraries.”
Montgomery said the goal was to keep the library open as much as possible during the construction phase to avoid disruption of services; to do that, the builders installed a temporary alternate entrance that was used during the project.
“Some folks say with everybody moving to e-books, why expand the library?” Montgomery said. “But despite e-books, our physical collection continues to be used, and our physical space is used more these days than it ever has been in the past.
“I’m excited about our expansion,” Montgomery added. “To me, our job as a library is a direct response to the needs of the community. This is a result of focus groups over the past several years, and we can respond without asking for money, because past local support has made our capital fund possible.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.