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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 Closed Main Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Main Library has been closed for 6 months as renovation and construction of the building has been underway; with another 7 months estimated before that work is completed and we will be ready to reopen the wonderful “new campus” of the library.


During the 3 years of planning and design of the Main Library facility, much consideration was given as to whether the facility could remain open during construction.


Early plans were to renovate the 1963 annex into the new complex with the new elevator being located in the former Bookmobile garage, with the building remaining partially open for service during that time.


As engineers review the additions that had been made to the 1902 Carnegie building, it was clear that reusing those buildings would be making a serious mistake for the long-term viability of the whole complex.


The Carnegie building has obviously a structure that had been built for the ages, while the additions demonstrated a “lesser quality” of construction.


Retaining those additions would not solve the accessibility issues of the facility in general and some future library board and administration would have difficult decisions with the additions renovated.


But removing those additions also made the decision that the whole facility would need to close as restrooms would be lost, some of the collections would be boxed for storage, and the operations would have to be compressed into a much smaller space.


In addition, contractors that we interviewed were concerned about public access to the site during the work, and the danger of mixing the public with the necessary heavy equipment.


So, plans for the renovation and construction moved forward with the Bookmobile operations and delivery and processing systems moved to a rental facility locally with the administrative staff relocated to the North Room of the Main Library, which is only slightly being impacted by the work.


The Schiappa Branch Library would assume delivery and sorting tasks and the Bookmobile would serve weekly stops at the Main Library and four locations in downtown Steubenville.


In reality, all 6 branches of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County have assumed system-wide tasks with the closure of the Main Library.


All staff from the Main Library has been located to the Schiappa Branch and the Toronto Branch, as well as substitute staff at all locations.


The computer system has been adjusted to “turn off” the Main Library collection as most of the physical books are inaccessible.


The other 93 libraries in our automation system have come to our rescue allowing their collections to be shared to fill the requests of our library users.


The other consideration is that many library services are now online such as eBooks, and services such as Hoopla and Flipster and are not impacted by the closure of one library building.


The phone system has been changed so that calls to 740-282-9782 are automatically forwarded to the Schiappa Branch for service.


So, we hope you understand the library closure, and are sure you will delight in the services and facilities that will be provided by the new library complex which will have both the old and the new.


The marble floors (restored) of the familiar Carnegie building combined with the new entrance and elevator of the new building.