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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Maintaining our Library Buildings

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 25, 2013

Each year, we invest in our library buildings so that each one is maintained in good condition so that they can continue to serve the public for years to come.

I join with the maintenance department to review our seven library buildings, and see what needs to be addressed each year, and develop a plan for now and years to come.

Our larger projects for 2013 include parking lot renovations at our Adena and Toronto Branch buildings.

Our Adena Branch Library location was acquired by the library system about 15 years ago, and the parking areas were never developed.  I was always embarrassed that the accessible ramp entrance to the building went directly to a gravel and mud parking area.

That is now solved, and the other library parking area across Hanna Ave. from the library has also been paved ready to provide library users with convenient parking.

The Toronto Branch Library was constructed new in 1989, and the parking surface now needs renovated and updated to combine a property acquired in 2007 into one flow of traffic.

Other work this year involves some interior painting and floor covering work, and some sidewalk replacement where age has caused cracking of the concrete surface.

Like our own homes, maintenance of our library buildings is a never-ending task, and it is always easier to fix things before they become a major project.

We always try to budget for these needs every year, although some years are more of a challenge to find funds to make building repairs.

Each year, it always seems that we “just fixed the landscaping” when the bushes suddenly need attention again.

Our Dillonvale Branch received a landscaping trim job this year, and I was amazed that those little trees planted in 1996 are now huge.  Same for those little trees that we planted across from the Main Library in 1999 that have now grown together.

Last year was the big roofing projects at the Schiappa and Toronto Branches, and a smaller overhang on the Tiltonsville Branch.  People still tell us that they love the color of the new metal roofs which changes slightly depending on the sunlight.

In my years of managing library buildings, roofs and air conditioning units have always seemed to be the biggest headache.  Roofs only leak when it rains, and a dry day won’t reveal the leak.

Air conditioning concerns disappear half of the year, and then become an emergency the remaining part of the year.

My first library in the 1970s had a complete breakdown of a huge chiller unit, and a new system was shipped by truck directly to the library site.  That new unit was defective, and by the time a replacement arrived, the hot summer season was over, and it was installed over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I have experience in forming plastic liners into funnels to channel leaking roof water into plastic garbage cans until something can be done to fix the leak.

I loathe flat roofs with gravel surfaces that conceal leaks even to the trained eye.  Those flat roofs also never have enough drains to remove the water during a hard rainstorm.

Ceiling tile with water stains cause me to groan, because it might not even be rainwater entering the building.

More recently, I did the paperwork necessary to utilize a program to replace and update all of the lighting in our libraries, with the promise of lower electrical usage.

I guess we are saving electrical power, but the cost of that power hasn’t changed the budget line very much.

And so, the librarian keeps his hard hat handy, and steel-toed work boots ready for those jobs needing done to our physical buildings, just so the books can be on-the-shelves and the computers remain dry.