New round of renovations at public library

Renovations have been ongoing at the Washington County Public Library for the last few years, but a current round of work will provide easier access for those with disabilities.

This new round of renovations will be ongoing through the rest of the month, with the outside side drive being done this weekend and the inside basement renovations lasting the majority of August.

Director Justin Mayo said the handicapped parking started being renovated Monday and will be more user friendly.

Ken Strahler Masonry has been doing the work.

“We just got here; we started at 7:30 (Monday morning),” said Strahler. “It’ll take about four days (to complete).”

He said the plan is to replace the whole asphalt drive.

“We’re removing the old asphalt driveway and replacing it with new concrete,” he said. “We’re putting in a handicapped parking area and widening (the drive) out two feet.”

The cost for replacing the drive will cost about $13,000.

High efficiency windows will likely replace some of the old windows as early as next week.

“A lot of the older ones (on the lower level) are broken,” said Mayo.

The windows will cost about $30,000 to put in.

In addition to the work to the outside and windows, work is ongoing in the basement, where the children’s area is.

“We don’t do programming and stuff (during late summer),” said Mayo. “School’s getting ready to start, so there are less people coming in.”

Painting is ongoing downstairs and the carpeting has partly been replaced.

Mayo said a lot of work has been ongoing at branches across the county, including Barlow, Beverly and New Matamoras.

“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff at all the branches,” he said. “Now we’re trying to play catchup. Now we’re focusing on the conditions of the buildings; we’re trying to get everything in line.”

Mayo said this includes roof repairs, like the ones at Beverly, and carpeting replacements at Barlow and New Matamoras.

Previous repairs at the library include new landscaping and a new boiler.

Building and Grounds coordinator Jeff Green said the renovations are an effort to make the library more hospitable.

“I think we’re just trying to make the library more comfortable,” he said. “These renovations have been needed for a long time.”

Green said one thing that makes the Marietta branch unique also makes work harder.

“The hardest part about it is it’s (one of) the only (libraries) in the U.S. that’s built on a mound,” he said.

Green said even though the side entrance is closed the library will work with the public if they call ahead.

“They can always call the library and we’ll help them out as much as we can,” he said, adding that includes bringing books out to the curb or even returning books.

The money to fund the renovations of the projects comes from state funds and a 1-mill, five-year levy for the library system, which was approved in 2010 and generates more than $1 million a year.

Mayo said during August, no fines will accrue for library patrons.

“We’re not going to collect fines during this period,” he said. “It’s inconvenient for people; it’s hard (right now) to get in and out of the building.”

Some upcoming improvements could include taking a look at new heating and air conditioning units, carpeting on the main floor and possibly shifting the fiction books to the main floor and moving the nonfiction upstairs. That change would happen near Christmas.

Mayo said through all of the renovations, local contractors have been used as often as possible.

Library patron Heather Catalona, 40, of Marietta, said she’s happy about the improvements being made to the library.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “It doesn’t interfere with me getting in and out of the library too badly. The library is one of my favorite places. I think it’s wonderful; (the renovations will) make it more welcoming.”