New architectural chapter written as reconstruction draws to a closeLibrary Director Nancy Miller is happy that it’s almost finished.
By: Vera Roy-Stoeberl, River Falls Journal
Library Director Nancy Miller is happy that it’s almost finished.
Since the first of the year the River Falls Public Library has had a plentiful share of that dreaded, but in this case necessary, annoyance called “noise.”
Construction workers have been the source of the disturbance, but with good cause.
For the last five months they’ve been working on a redesign of several areas in the library. Soon it will all be complete.
Miller listed the areas that have been changed: “Primarily on the south side of the building: The audio-visual area (with its films, audiobooks and music), board room, computer and history rooms, and the children’s program room.”
Back in February, Miller wrote in her weekly Journal column: “It’s been noisy in the library! That’s because the construction crew is removing brick from the exterior mechanical deck walls in preparation for enclosing the space. Lots of jackhammering out there.”
In March, she wrote: “The construction crew is putting up sheetrock. Hooray! That means our remodeling project is getting closer to being finished.”
Now everything’s just about done.
“Everything but the solarium in the children’s program room is just about complete,” said Miller. “We’re still putting up some shelves, moving things around, etc. We hope to have the solarium done by summer’s end.”
Miller was asked why the changes were needed and how library patrons would benefit.
She explained: “We outgrew the AV (audio-visual) area within a couple of years of being in this building. Who knew formats would change and the demand would grow so quickly?
“Thus, we first ‘made do’ by moving items to other areas of the building — more shelves put in, bottom shelves used, travel videos were shelved with the travel books, non-fiction audiobooks were moved to the non-fiction book area, children’s music CDs were moved into the children’s library, etc.
“Then, carts of unshelved materials started stacking up in the hallway into the children’s library. The remodeled AV area is much larger, allowing us to actually get everything on the shelves, and to make it easier for patrons to find things. The whole area looks much brighter and user-friendly.”
Next Miller explained about the history room.
“What was the history room became part of the AV area. The old room was dark and seemed to close in on itself. There was no place to sit down and read.
“The history room has been moved to the first part of what was the computer room, and while the square footage is about the same, the configuration, lighting and layout are much more inviting. There will be a table to sit at, and we also plan to put a computer in there where patrons can do genealogy research, etc.”
Computers are still available and just about in the same location.
“The computer room is in the same place, with the front nipped off for the history room, but it has been extended back into an office space, making the room larger, and giving us the opportunity to add more public access computers,” said Miller.
“Our public access computers logged 40,000 sessions last year, and we had a waiting line at times. For those without a computer, without Internet access, or who for other reasons need a computer to print out a resume, take an online test, or fill out forms, the library fills the gap.”
Available meeting space has been improved as well with the redesign, according to Miller.
“The old board room on the north side of the building has been converted into office space for the technical services librarian and the reference librarian. Their office was previously on the south side of the building, behind the reference desk.
“To create a new larger board room, the air handlers on a south-facing exterior mechanical deck were moved to the yard. The biggest of them had already been moved when we had to replace one a couple of summers ago.
“The deck was then enclosed, adding about 600-square feet of new interior space. This gave us a bigger board room, which will be able to accommodate larger meetings, and be more flexible.
“We had close to 800 non-library meetings in the building last year, and were still turning people away, so this will help us get a few more groups in.
“The children’s librarian’s office, which was taken over by the computer room, also went into this area.”
Two small adjustments were made with the study rooms and the reference desk.
Miller said: “The three small study rooms have simply been reconfigured to face east instead of north. The reference desk has been moved out to the center of the floor, making it more visible and accessible to the public.”
A much-needed addition is in the works in the children’s program room, Miller said. It’s the last part of this project to be finished.
“The children’s program room is what I consider to be one mistake we didn’t catch in the planning of the building. It was planned to be 300 square feet, (and shaped)…like a long hallway.
“It has always been difficult to fit 20 squirming little bodies in there comfortably.
“A solarium is being added, the one change in the footprint of the building, that will add another 250 square feet to this room. It will be more usable not only for our programs, but also potentially for other groups, like the Girl Scouts or 4-H clubs that meet here.”
Miller noted that project planners “tried to be as ‘green’” as they could.
“The windows from the children’s program room were re-used in the board room (and) all the doors and door frames were re-used.”
For information about the library or its re-construction project, call Miller at 425-0905.