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Lit: No One Said Renovations Would be Easy

When the library received a private donation last year to tackle various facilities upgrades, replacing our dingy carpets was the first item on our wish list.
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Library director Saara Itkonen poses in front of the new teen space.

When the library received a private donation last year to tackle various facility upgrades, replacing our dingy carpets was the first item on our wish list. Flooring isn’t something that public services can easily find grants to fund (believe me, I’ve looked!). Replacing flooring is also such an enormous and expensive job that I suspect previous library directors probably didn’t want the headache of tackling either. However, our library’s carpets had been in place since the ’90s, when the building was still a health centre. Since then, they’ve turned from whatever original colour they once were to a beigy-grey (greige?) with visibly worn pathways between the shelving from the thousands and thousands of people who have wandered through over the years.

To launch our renovation project we took photos of the stains that had accumulated (just so everyone was crystal clear about how awful the carpets had become) and asked members of our community to vote for their favourite stain on Facebook. The tongue-in-cheek social media post was meant to announce the project but also lighten the mood of what we knew would be a big bother to both staff and patrons because, unfortunately, we can’t change the library’s flooring without moving all of the library’s shelving and books.

Thankfully, our patrons not only had fun laughing about the stains but many commenters even came up with creative stories for what the shapes looked like or where they might have originated from. Our staff sure had a good chuckle from all the responses and, for the most part, library patrons have been very understanding about the fuss and bother of everything moving around and getting temporarily put away in storage. I suspect many members of our community have also had to deal with home repairs, renovations, or even just moving houses. We’re so thankful for the understanding of how much of a hassle it can all be.

We’re also thankful to be about halfway through the project now, having just completed the flooring in our Adult Fiction section. This required moving two-thirds of our entire library collection(!), taking down the shelves on the public floor, and moving everything into the meeting room – a process not unlike a Looney-tunes style Bugs Bunny building the railroad tracks as the locomotive is speeding closely behind. We then had to do it all again in reverse once the flooring was finished and the new paint on the walls had dried. That whole section took a month to complete. We are tired and sore, but now our fiction section is back in place with gorgeous new floors and fresh paint. We’re also relieved nobody will have to tackle this job again for at least another 20 years.

Another exciting part of this renovation is the new dedicated Teen Area in the back corner of the library. It’s a space where teens can feel welcome and get a little noisy (as they often do) without having adults get angry with them (as they often do). In June, we even hosted a grand opening of the space with an art show put on by graduating teens from the high school.

Family members, teachers, and friends showed up to view the excellent artwork, support the artists, and check out the brand-new space reserved just for them.

The next section of flooring to tackle includes our library’s front doors and the public bathrooms. This means we’ll have to close the library for a few days from July 18 to 20. This is the only planned closure during this project so be sure to come in beforehand to stock up on your weekend summer reading materials. Also, don’t worry kids, the Summer Reading Club will continue as scheduled in our meeting room, through the back entrance of the library with the option to spread out in the garden if the weather is nice.

We thank you all so much for your encouragement, kind words, patience, and understanding as we go through this process and we look forward to hosting a celebration in the fall when the project is complete!

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