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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 New Building

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, July 15, 2018

Last October, we had many people from the area visit the Main Library building just before the building closed for a major renovation and new construction to photograph the building’s interior one last time.


Of particular interest was the Children’s Library which had been located on the Lower Level since it was moved there in 1941 some 40 years after the building was originally constructed.


The area was filled with 7 murals detailing popular children’s book themes which were painted by the Art Association in 1956 when the area was renovated.


At the same time, Faustina S. “Frosty” Bianco joined the staff as an artist consultant and worked for 28 years enhancing the system and its branch libraries with a variety of papier-mache figurines for the delight of children, and adults as well.


When the building closed for the construction work, the figurines that remained were packed and boxed up for storage.


About half of the 100 remaining figurines were on display when the Main Library closed with some remaining in the 6 branch libraries.


Frosty often re-used figurines as the framework for new creations, and in later days she used glue guns and more modern materials which did not last as long as the papier-mache products of the earlier days.


An overwhelming favorite character is “Jack and the Beanstalk,” which graced the children’s library from floor to ceiling for 60 years, will return with new LED lights for the eyes of Jack.


All of the figurines will return to the new library complex, with the children’s library moving to the 2nd floor of the new building with the same shelving and furniture and many of the figurines.


We plan to clean and repair the figurines which will be displayed all over the library complex, as well as the murals which will be displayed in the new lobby area where the 1902 building joins with the 2018 building.


While packing away all the materials that needed removed for construction, we found a professional photo taken about 1960 showing library director David Griffith (1922-2010) with Frosty Bianco (1922-2011) showing off the new figurine of “Skimmer the Bookworm” which became the mascot of the library in 1953; and was returned as the mascot in 2015.


Frosty was camera-shy, and it was surprising to find a photo of her, which caused us to consider making a display of this rare photograph for the new library complex so a new generation would learn about our artist.


Over her lifetime, Frosty worked at The Hub Department Store and Creegan and Co. in addition to the library system.


The new Main Library will be different from the previous facility, as nearly all areas of the building have been rearranged with the lower level being entirely staff areas.


The Bookmobile and its offices and delivery area will be completely switched to face south so the new public entrance will be directed toward Slack Street.


I think everyone will be amazed by the new entrance and lobby area complete with the public service desk that formerly occupied the children’s library.


A 2-story lobby will be in the space where the 117 year old Carnegie building joins with the new 2018 annex with 2-story windows facing north and south bringing light into the public area graced by two chandeliers that will match the lobby chandeliers in the Carnegie building.


The “new space” in the facility will feature a community meeting area so the library system can feature public programming.


It took 4 years of planning for this facility, blending the old and new into one campus of library service.


Many years ago, a former employee of the library system visited from California and caused me to think about the 500 or so people who have worked at the library over its 117 year history and the contribution of each person to the facility you see today.


That woman explained how the library has changed since her employment from 1951-1959, and how nice it looked at her 1985 visit.


As I have said many times, a library is the culmination of all the people who have worked here, and the 78 board members who have served on the board of trustees since 1899.