(Posted June 4, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
When asked about her favorite parts of the recently remodeled Plain City Public Library, Chris Long, director, first points her finger to the storytime room.
“It’s not just kids. You’ll see adults walk in the room and see their faces light up,” she said at the May 22 grand opening.
Enclosed by curved walls in the middle of what once was the adult section, the storytime room features amphitheater style seating, a chair swing suspended from the ceiling for the storyteller, a regulation height entryway, and a separate crawl-through entryway. Above it all, a translucent, patterned faux skylight, lit from above, covers the space.
While the storytelling room is an easy pick for favorite new feature, Long is almost as thrilled with something seemingly less flashy–a new wall of windows. Carved into the west side of the building, the windows shed natural light onto a new teen area and open the view to the library’s outdoor garden and program area.
“We bought the adjacent property in 2002…and ever since that time, we’ve been dreaming of looking out a window,” Long said.
Even small changes are worth noting, she continued.
“I know it sounds funny, but we have a garbage disposal and we’re excited!”
The staff work area, offices, and break room are now consolidated along the south side of the building and, thanks to donations from the Friends of the Library, are outfitted with a washer/dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and, yes, a garbage disposal.
The goal of the months-long renovation, during which the library set up temporary shop in a nearby storefront, was to make the existing space more efficient.
“We didn’t have the budget to add on. This is what was within our budget,” said Long of the nearly $600,000 project. “The architect worked miracles. This definitely has exceeded expectations.”
From the moment patrons walk into the library, they will notice the differences. The adult and children’s sections have switched sides of the building. The front desk includes a new self-checkout station. Curved desks and walkways encourage an easy flow of foot traffic. New furnishings seamlessly blend with repurposed ones.
“It’s gorgeous! I think I’m speechless for once,” said Thelma Brown who worked at the library from 1997 to 2014. “It’s easy to remember what is was. Now, it’s so modern and open.”
“Everything is really well thought out,” said Virginia Blasingame, a library board trustee.
For example, the seating in the storytelling room contains hidden storage and some of the shelving for the youth collection is on wheels so it can be moved aside to create space for large programs.
The consolidated staff area creates efficiencies that allow staff to spend more time helping patrons with such amenities as the three-dimensional printer.
“Libraries are not just books anymore. They’re more make-it, take-it, discover-it places,” Blasingame said.
Not so noticeable but just as important, Long said, are the upgrades to the building’s lighting, electricity, and technology cabling.
“It took a long time to save for the renovation–it was 20 years in the works, but it should serve the needs of the community for the next 20 years,” she said.