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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.

The Main Library 2018

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 18, 2017

This past week, the library reached a milestone.  The design work, blueprints, engineering work, and general planning for the Main Library renovation and addition was completed, finishing a 3 year task.


General discussions and idea formation had been underway both formally and informally for over 25 years.


The initial discussion was the result of the Main Library building’s lack of accessibility which led to it being the LAST public library building operating in Ohio that did not meet ADA Accessibility requirements.


I cannot tell you how many times I was told about a mother carrying or dragging a baby stroller up and/or down the grand stairways that designers used to mimic Greek and Roman architecture that was designed to show people the climb to knowledge.


I remember the time the lady in a wheelchair asked if she could “get into the building” and I had to tell her that the steep ramp in the garage ended at the stone wall.


The blueprints heading for City review now show how this will all be remedied with the renovations and additions to the historic Carnegie Library Building.


It is a blend of accessibility and compatible architecture; not a new building that is an exact copy of the old, rather two buildings linked together to form an attractive facility that will work for years to come.


The sewer will connect to a 1901 line installed by the Library Board at the turn of the 20th Century, still in good condition and ready to keep serving.  The water line will be new.


A bank of new electrical transformers will provide power to both buildings with telephone and Internet arriving in the current communications room where Civil War veterans looked at the atlases of a war they remembered.


Ever try to connect a new building to one that opened in 1902?  It was the first Carnegie Library approved from funding in Ohio by a letter dated June 30, 1899, but the 2nd opening in early 1902.


So many historic buildings have been lost to later sad memories.  This facility to put the same façade forward as nothing will look different from S. 4th Street.


We are going to gently usher library users through a new Slack Street Entrance at street level where new interior stairs or an elevator will move people to the familiar Reading Rooms of 1902 or the new computer rooms or Children’s Library of 2017.


Yes, the familiar Children’s Library that filled the old Auditorium since 1941 will move to the new 2nd floor complete with its Papier-Mache figurines and familiar book collection.


All of the staff area will move to the lower level of the building, finally separating the staff from the public areas of the facility.


The Bookmobile Department will rotate and move to allow the public to enter into a central corridor with stairways wrapping around the elevator with some of the “big” Papier-Mache adorning the high walls of the shaft. 

Large windows bring light into the stairways and leisure reading areas.  The current North and South Reading Rooms are unchanged, except perhaps the addition or more electrical service for the public devices that everyone carries today.


A Street-level meeting room will allow the public programs to be held there rather than in the middle of Reading Rooms.


The former back wall of the Carnegie Building, hidden inside the garages since 1948, will re-emerge to show its architecture as it did the first half of its life.


The Library Board, and the Administrative Staff, are all excited to present this new and old library to the public towards the end of 2018.


I promise that we have done our best job to present to the public a responsible expenditure of public monies to develop something that we are sure will beam with pride as part of our community.