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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 is rising

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 19, 2018

All of the sidewalk superintendents following the Main Library Project have commented “how large” the addition to the building is now looking compared to all the foundation work since it all began in January.


The addition of the metal roof decking has given the new building a much different look than before, and indeed the new facility looks much larger than before.


You must remember that the two buildings do not touch each other, except in the center where the new lobby joins with the new stairway and elevator.


That area which includes the new entrance and lobby also takes up a fair amount of space as the 4 floor levels join at that point.


The street-level of the new building contains the community meeting room, and otherwise is an area devoted to the bookmobile garage and staff areas for shipping and receiving.


The lower level of the Carnegie building is completely staff area as the Main Library has support services for the entire library system.


The 1st floor of the Carnegie building remains almost unchanged, except the public will access that area reversed from the previous arrangement due to the new lobby and elevator.


The 2nd floor of the new building has the public computer, reference, and children’s library.


And thereby was one of the first major decisions of this whole project ---- what do you call the 4 levels of this new complex?


That issue arose early in the planning stages, and I was insistent that a decision had to be made. We needed to start “calling floors” by their name to avoid confusion later.


So, lower level, street level, 1st floor, and 2nd floor will be the directional descriptions; all radiating from the central core formed by the new interior stairways and elevator.


I was thinking back to all the consultants and engineers who looked at the Carnegie building in the many years I have been here; and their consistent comments about what a complicated job it would be.


More than one person suggested that the Carnegie building should simply be demolished and start over with a one-floor complex.


The reality is that Carnegie buildings are now viewed as a basis of public libraries and a cherished core of a community.


So, working with the existing 1902 building was a basis for whatever was done to make the whole facility ADA accessible.


Of the 105 Carnegie buildings in Ohio, 15 have been demolished and about half of the remaining ones are no longer used as libraries with several sitting abandoned.


All 8 of the academic Carnegie buildings on college campuses have become administrative offices or classrooms with the libraries moving to newer buildings.


We felt that our Carnegie building is special as it was the first approved for funding by Andrew Carnegie in Ohio, and the second one to open to the public in addition to those in East Liverpool and Sandusky.


And therefore, we spent literally years developing the best plan to make the facility more functional while making it ADA accessible.


The public will let us know if we were successful or not sometime near the end of 2018 as the project is completed.


I think it will be February 2019 when the new facility reopens to the public as there is an enormous amount of work to be done getting the interior ready for us. 


Staff training will be a necessity as it won’t be the same building as before, and new ways of doing things will be essential.


Lots of familiar things are being reused, and many new things will be part of the completed facility.


If you aren’t currently one of the 30,000 active library card holders, maybe this will be the opportunity for you to begin the habit.