Library remodel extensive

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January 25, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Major changes are afoot at the Iola Public Library.
A contractor will be determined Tuesday by Iola city commissioners for an $800,000 remodel. Five bids were received for the job.
The remodel of existing space is to be completed in the next 11 months, said library director Roger Carswell. Funding is split evenly between a Community Development Block Grant and library reserve funds, Carswell said.
While no square footage is being added, 15 percent more shelving space will be realized as a result of the remodel.
In addition, a new public meeting room, accessible from the west side of the building and through the children’s department, will be constructed from current Southeast Kansas Library System office space.
Although the room will be accessible from the outside, the new door will not be a main entrance to the library, Carswell noted. The 600-800 square foot room will be available for library story times, computer classes and public meetings, both during library hours and in evenings. An existing employee entrance will be removed, Carswell said.
For the duration of the restructuring, most SEKLS offices, including special needs services, were moved Thursday to 44 N. Washington. Carswell, who serves as both director of the local library and president of SEKLS, will stay in place.
SEKLS rotation services will also remain at the library during the remodel. The service provides 10 boxes of books, approximately 370 volumes, every six weeks to 58 locations throughout southeast Kansas. Most of the locations are small public libraries, Carswell said, that have only small permanent collections. The SEKLS rotation supplements those collections.

THE MOST noticeable change will come at the library’s main entrance.
Two foyer doors will be removed and rehung to either side of the existing entryway, forming separate entrances to both the children’s and regular collections. A wall will replace the existing entry.
The circulation desk will then be reversed, backing the new wall and facing inward.
Children’s librarian Leah Oswald will also be given space at the main circulation desk, rather than, at present, a free-standing location.
The glass display case now at the front of the library will be removed.
Walls of the audio books room will also be torn down and the space converted to the newspaper and magazine browsing area, Carswell said, complete with coffee maker where patrons can, for a donation, have a cup of joe as they peruse the daily news.
Windows facing First Presbyterian Church and at the  back of the building will be replaced with energy efficient ones.

A LESS immediate apparent change will be to library restrooms. A new restroom meeting Americans with Disabilities Act standards will be constructed off the public meeting room.
Two existing restrooms will be remodeled for ADA accessibility as well, Carswell said. The remodel will mean the loss of one stall per restroom, but baby changing stations will be added to both men’s and women’s rooms, he said.
A doorway from the children’s department adjacent to the restrooms, covered over in the 1970s, will be restored, Carswell said.
In addition, Carswell said, “There are some areas where lighting is being changed because the ceiling is being replaced.” If bids allow, additional lighting throughout the entire library will be changed as well.
A new roof will be put on the original library building; paint and carpeting will be redone throughout.
Genealogy and reference departments will remain where they are.

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