London Public Library is preparing for significant changes this year, including an interior renovation of its main floor and acceptance into the Central Library Consortium.
In 2012, the library sent out over 5,200 surveys to London residents to get a pulse on how the library could provide better service. From the survey, a plan began to emerge and, in November 2013, the library board of trustees gave the green light to renovate the main floor in the spring of 2014.
“A lot of the library’s interior was starting to show excessive wear, so we felt it was the right time to update the look and move forward with reorganizing the library’s space to meet the community’s needs,” said Melissa Gaston, library board president.
While the board’s approval came just three months ago, conceptualization was a year-long process. The library worked with Library Design Associates (LDA), a central Ohio company that works specifically with libraries on renovation or new building projects.
“We’ve worked with Library Design on previous projects, so we felt confident in having them assist us,” said Mike Hensel, library director.
A key component of the renovation is new carpet throughout the main floor, children’s room and administration area. The carpet will have different patterns to designate different areas.
Other areas that will see significant changes are the reading and audio-visual rooms.
“There was a lot of desire from the community to see our DVD, audiobook, music and video game collections grow, and the only way to do that was to swap the reading and A/V rooms,” Hensel said.
The library will update the reading room with new tables, chairs and fresh paint.
“We’re going to make the reading area cozy while adding a little bit of color to create ambience” Hensel said.
The service desk will grow to accommodate the expanded A/V area and will feature a touch screen self-checkout station. The young adult area will see a growth in shelving availability and new furniture.
The largest and most significant change in the renovation will come with the new layout in the library’s 1989 addition. In the 2012 survey, many patrons expressed a desire for more user space. The library board and the administration realized an expansion was not in the cards due to cost, so the idea of rearranging the library’s current layout in the addition came into play.
The library and LDA came up with a new layout that will establish a lounge area to take full advantage of the large bay window while maintaining room for the library’s collections.
Included in the lounge area will be four round tables that seat two patrons each, two large study/work tables for up to four people and four large lounge chairs with a coffee table in the middle. The study/work tables will be wired with electrical outlets so patrons with laptops can plug in.
The library also will have a new lighting scheme in the form of energy efficient strip lighting hung from the ceiling and energy efficient pendants to replace the older ones hanging throughout the building.
All of the work is scheduled to take two and half weeks beginning March 26 and ending April 13. The library will be closed the entire time. It will reopen on April 14, the first day of spring break for local students and the start of National Library Week.
“We hate to close the library down for such a duration, but it’s the safest and least expensive route,” Hensel said.
Central Library Consortium
The library’s other big news is that it became a member of the Central Library Consortium on Jan. 1. The consortium is made up of 14 library systems. London and two other new members, Upper Arlington and Bexley, will go online in April.
Currently, community members have access to roughly 45,000 items at the London Library. Through the consortium, they will have access to over 4 million items, including materials from Columbus Metro Libraries, Fairfield County District Library, Grandview Heights, Marysville, Plain City, Worthington, Pickaway County, Pickerington, Wagnalls Memorial Library, Southwest, Alexandria Public Library, Upper Arlington and Bexley Library.
“Our library catalog will be married with all of the other consortium libraries so when a patron does a search for an item, it searches all of the catalogs,” said services manager Bryan Howard, who is overseeing the migration to the consortium.
“If we do not have a physical copy of something, then the library that does will send a copy to us which will arrive within two or three days.”
The consortium will deliver materials to the library five days a week, so that patrons of the London Library and other libraries in the system get their materials in a timely manner.
“Collaboration and material sharing has become the model of today’s libraries. We realized that we couldn’t physically grow our collections in house, but we are doing the next best thing,” Howard said.
Other benefits to joining the consortium include automated phone calls to patrons who have holds on materials as well as cost saving opportunities for the library when purchasing databases and computer hardware. The library’s catalog system will be down for a period during the renovation as it is integrated into the consortium catalog.
“There’s a lot of work ahead but when it’s all said and done, the community will have an updated library interior and access to a very large collection of materials. It is very exciting, and we look forward to April 14. We hope the community will too,” Hensel said.
London Public Library is located at 20 E. First St. and online at www.mylondonlibrary.org.