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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.

Main Library moving to completion

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 30, 2018

If you have been a sidewalk superintendent at the Main Library ADA renovation and construction project recently, you will have noticed that outside work is nearing completion and materials and fencing have been removed.


Work commenced last January and encountered the rainiest season on record.  Combined with some difficulties in steel fabrication and delivery, the project is about 6 weeks behind schedule.


Our contractors have continued to work in the mud and mess of the rainy weather; hardly a day of work has been missed.


The new building sits on steel pilings filled with concrete, many driven down 45 ft. into the sand and gravel that composes downtown Steubenville.


The Carnegie building sits on 4 courses of stone, with the last courses turned opposite the building and sitting on compacted crushed stone.


The Carnegie building and the new building touch, but are not connected to each other for support to allow separate expansion and contraction.


Workers have commented to me “how strong” the new building is compared to other buildings they have worked on over the years, but of course, libraries carry a heavier floor load factor than single story buildings that are simply on concrete pads.


It is a shame that much of the steel structure of the new building is covered and not visible, but the same is true for the Carnegie building with only one steel I-beam and its rivets visible in the staff lunchroom.


Books weigh a lot, and the shelving housing books add even more weight to the structure load --- the same being true for our Schiappa, Toronto, and Dillonvale buildings which were new construction.


While construction was underway, we also had the slate roof of the Carnegie repaired, a process that takes place every 7-8 years as broken slate need replaced.  That slate roof was installed in 1956 when the top of the tower was removed and the deteriorated original clay tile roof was replaced.


The roof of the new building is gray metal shaped to replicate the roof of the Carnegie, with the gray concrete panels joining the two buildings and providing an outline for the 2-story windows facing S. 5th Street.


The often-discussed limestone Belden brick of the new building is intended to be a color opposite of the Carnegie to meet the requirement that the buildings are “architecturally sympathetic” but clearly two different structures and time periods.


You will now see the new entrance to the complex which is at “street-level” facing Slack Street and the library parking lots


The current classic entrance facing S. 4th Street will be closed to serve only as an emergency exit, with the grand staircase remaining behind an attractive fence set.


I think the highlight of the library complex will be the 2-story atrium that joins old and new with a new interior stairway linking all levels, wrapped around our first-ever elevator.


The back wall of the Carnegie building will be exposed for the first time since the former annex was added in 1963 with large stones highlighting the lower wall, and the newly-framed murals from the former children’s room beautifying the upper wall.


The lower level of the Carnegie building will be utilized entirely by staff doing duties for the whole county system, and half of the street level being used by the Bookmobile program and delivery and receiving of the system.


The remainder of the street level will have the new community meeting room and reading area for various devices that the public now uses for technology.


The first floor of the Carnegie building is much-the-same as before with the book collection and a new study room, the second floor of the new building will serve the reference and special collections, computer and technology, study rooms and the children’s library.


Significant completion is slated for February, with a couple more months needed to re-install furniture in storage, as well as new equipment and furniture.


Once reopened, I can bid the library system a fond farewell; although I have been told I can sneak back to do some indexing and historical restoration, and maybe fill-in at the desk.


It is hard to shut down an old librarian.