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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.

Construction Begins on the Main Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 28, 2018

With the start of construction at the Main Library, I was reviewing some of the building files that show the development of the building, and in particular, renovations that were done in the 1950s on that facility.


Issues with the tower and roof of the Main Library started within a decade of the 1902 construction, and by the 1940s the situation had become severe.


Roof leaks stained most interior walls of the large reading rooms as the original red clay tile roof shingles were breaking due in part to stone and brickwork falling from the tower onto the roof shingles.


Part of the roof had been patched with rolled roofing and the gutters no longer carried away storm waters.


A contract was issued in Dec. 1955 to replace the roof with slate, and remove the top 35 ft. of the tower at a cost of $ 10,200.   That project was completed by the fall of the next year.


The addition of the Bookmobile garage was accomplished in 1950 at a cost of $ 7,300 by reducing costs by using damaged concrete block and attaching it to the side of the existing building, saving one wall.


The other project of the era involved completing a “book stack” area above the circulation desk; a project eliminated from the original 1902 construction.


The Remington Rand Corp. designed a 4-story book stack, where the shelves sat on top of each other to form a multiple-level system to accommodate books which provided more people-space in the reading rooms.


That system was evidentially too expensive, as the option of adding a one-floor balcony was completed in 1952.


In 1962, a rear two-story annex was constructed for $ 31,000 to expand the Main floor and provide space for the Bookmobile work.


All of this work over a 10 year period of the library added three more stairways and continued a century of carrying books up-and-down the stairways, not to mention the flight of stairs required to simply enter the building.


Plans for the construction of a brand new “oval-shaped library” in the front yard were developed; then dropped permanently in 1970 in favor of simply painting the interior of the library and adding central air conditioning.


This brings us to the current era of having the last public library in Ohio that is not ADA accessible.


Every time someone looked at the Main Library for renovation to make it fully accessible, the first comment is a “groan” followed by the comment, “there is no street-level entrance.”


An entrance ramp with two hair-pin curves, or an elevator attached to the exterior were both eliminated for their lack of visual appeal or lack of connection to multiple levels.


A final design was found that addressed the historical aspect of the Carnegie Library, as well as the accessibility of the whole library complex.


I am looking forward to the completion of the whole project to make the Main Library accessible to all.