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Library transformation begins

Construction on the public library's remodel job starts soon, if not this week. Debbie Griffin photo

The city received 14 bids for the library's $293,000 remodel project, and the City Council approved the lowest one last week. That means Red Wing Construction starts demolition on some parts of the library's innards, possibly as soon as this week.

Director Nancy Miller said the library started preparing as soon as council members accepted the bid.

"Everything else is in place," Miller said. "We just need to get the contract signed."

She said staff members have been moving things around to prepare for the start, especially Friday last week when the library closed for its annual cleaning day.

Employees emptied the old audio-visual and history rooms, an area that will become an expanded space to hold DVDs and other media. An office in the back has been moved to the existing board room.

Miller says, "We're short a meeting room right now."

She expects the disruption to continue through early March, when the first phase of construction is scheduled to be finished. The director asks people to please be patient, that it's all temporary.

When complete, the project will create not only the expanded audio-visual section but also a bigger board/meeting room, space for additional computers, and an improved and enlarged Program Room, where the library hosts children's activities.

The project's end will also leave additional study areas and a relocated reference desk.

Miller said in October that the project responds to changes in how the library operates now as compared to 11 years ago when it opened the current building.

Laptops on hand inside

Miller tells of a new offering implemented about a month ago. The library offers two laptops for use inside the library.

"We have a couple of laptops that people can check out. It's a test program," said Miller. "We purchased them with funds from the River Falls Library Foundation."

People can only use the computers within the library walls, but Miller says the new policy adds two more computers plus people can move around with them instead of having to stay inside the computer room.

The library's Web site lists its laptop policy. A few of the rules: Only residents with a MORE library card can check them out, people must leave their library card and a $100-cash or check deposit.

Nobody with fines exceeding $10 may use the laptops. People who want them get them on a first-come first-served basis: No reservations.

Laptops will not be checked out if the library closes in less than an hour. People may not install or delete software on the machines. Users must have headphones to play audio or video files.

People can check them out for up to two hours and re-check them for more time if nobody else is waiting.

Library staff will check the laptop upon return and delete any added files. Users can go to the computer room to print their documents and should plan to save files on some kind of removable media.

When checking a computer back in at the reference desk, a staff member will check to make sure it is intact and functioning properly. Users should expect that to take up to five minutes and not plan on leaving the desk until the check is complete.

People could incur a fine if they keep the laptop too long or leave before check-in is complete.

The library asks that people return the laptops one half hour before closing time.