Library progress, slow but steady

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The long and winding road that leads to a new and improved West Liberty Public Library is beginning to disappear.

Right now construction on the original facility on Spencer St. is focused on finishing the building's frame while making it and the roof water tight.

“The black everyone sees on the building right now is actually a water barrier, so if we get heavy rain it won't penetrate the wood,” Library Director Janette McMahon said.

For the most part, library reconstruction has remained on budget and on time. Todd Hackett Construction has worked constantly throughout the summer to complete the project.

City officials closed the library on May 15, 2012, following recommendations from the city’s building inspector. At issue was water damage to the building’s walls due to tile roofing and windows that were improperly installed.

Lately, the library was able to save $2,200 on switching the style of copper flashing used between the brick and the concrete caps. The money was used on more sheathing and framing needed to make the building structurally sound.

Library staff recently spent some time taking shelving that was stored in pods in the parking lot and putting it inside the building. They're attempting to make room for the next step of reconstruction, the arrival and installation of bricks.

"We're in a residential area and we're trying very hard not to block parking while keeping the mess contained," McMahon added. "Right now we need to make room for brick that will be arriving."

Room has been somewhat of a challenge for the library. While they're thankful for the location on Third St., the facility has been tightly packed since they moved in last year.

The library recently rented out room in the Legion Hall for added storage. However, this has led to the false rumor that the library is moving again.

"The temporary facility is not moving to Legion Hall," McMahon clarified. "The staff is merely moving stuff from our main location and we needed additional storage. We greatly appreciate the ease in which the Legion has allowed us to use its space."

Right now the targeted date to move back into the original facility for the library is mid-November, but McMahon has made it clear that's only a hope, not a concrete date.

As for right now, the staff is working hard to prepare for the day when it can move all the materials back, while attempting to keep quality programming alive in West Liberty.

They've had to cut back on community programs due to space. However, space gave the library the perfect opportunity for a family program that won't overcrowd the temporary location.

An astronomy family program is planned for 7 p.m. on Sept. 16. Led by award-winning astrophysicist and former consultant to NASA, Kevin Manning, the program will be hosted at Kimberly Park.

"It came across that he'll be in the area, so we asked him to come and do something in West Liberty," McMahon said.

As part of his tour to improve science literacy in the United States, Manning will talk about outer space for about 45 minutes. Then he'll have everyone spend the rest of the night looking at the stars.

Since the program occurs in the park, it won't take up any room at the library, a win-win situation. The library is also using its limited space as an opportunity to send more to the Nichols mini library.

"Since we don't have a lot of room we sent an extra computer to Nichols," McMahon said. "We want to gage the need for computers over there while we have the chance."

The West Liberty Public Library recently opened the small library in Nichols' City Hall. It switches out material periodically at the location, as well as takes requests via email or telephone for material from West Liberty.

But the staff, and the West Liberty community, is ready to move back. Like a long vacation, everyone wants to come home.
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