Thursday, February 25, 2016

Getting it right: A tale in library renovation

When I first heard of the renovation of Norman Binkley a few years ago, I figured my library would be remodeled. A little paint and new carpet and that would the end of it! One day the architects were in the library and looking at the wall for structural purposes. I overheard one person say that the “library could not be expanded out and a new library would have to be built.” I was so excited with the possibilities. Soon we were meeting with the architects and looking at possible design ideas. Kathy Bennett was the library lead at the time and she was involved in the first meeting before retiring. I gave the primary architect my vision for the library and its uses. They came back with a couple designs for the new library and we all agreed on the current design. Tall ceilings and all would make it a showpiece for the school. I made sure all of my concerns about infrastructure and shelving were heard.

Then the fun came! Items were cut from the budget and I had no knowledge until it was too late in some instances and salvaged last minute on other occasions. The projectors (two of them) were to be mounted from the ceiling in the new library. This was cut. Several internet drops (internet jacks) were also cut. Shelving was cut. The big display case outside was poorly designed and the contractor noted this by saying he “would not use the subcontractor again”. I was verbal about the need for good sound qualities for the space from the beginning. I am next to the P.E. room and many changes were made to doorways and walls because of my concern. However, the library was built with metal ceiling that create a “live” acoustical feel. I wanted to be able to do more activities in the library without concern for sound.

I found that I would have to fight to get things right. Stephanie Ham, Director of Library Services, came on board (yeah!!) and helped me work to get more shelving for the easy section of my library that did not have room for all my books. The heating and air system created a disaster. I came back from fall break to find books warping. After my first summer I found a chair in my AV room covered with mold (that got some attention). There were cold days at 45 degrees and then it would be fixed for a time. You know you have problems when you personally know the head of construction for the school system. He helped see the heating and air problem through and we now know that the system is incorrect for a library. Our school is now adding 15 classrooms and a completely new HVAC unit will be installed for the library. I had to pay for an internet drop out of library funds to have a connection in my AV room. Stephanie is helping me address the sound issue. Blinds were installed during “snow break” to help with sun issues at computers and around the library (i.e., teachers wearing sunglasses at faculty meetings – lol – no really!). I made a funky cart setup for a projector I bought from EBay so I could use it in my story time area.

The process to get things right has been a long one, but with help from great people like Stephanie and others I feel that I am on the right track to getting issues resolved. My advice is to stay involved with the process from the beginning and do not assume anything! I know the process is better now compared to when our library was built, but do not leave anything to chance.

MNPS Librarian

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