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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.

Repurposing Library Furniture and Equipment

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, February 3, 2019

As the work on the Main Library ADA Project continues inside, there is a tremendous amount of work involved with cabinetry, furniture, equipment and preparation for the facility to return to operating again as a public library.


In the planning process, I identified some furniture and equipment which could be repurposed into the new building --- and the faces of the architects turned pale.  (they want everything to be new)


Being the son of parents who grew up in the Depression, I had always been taught to be frugal and this project would be no different.


Library furniture is typically more substantial than everyday furniture, so no reason to acquire something if what we have an item that can be repurposed.


The lower level of the Carnegie building (the building itself being repurposed) will become entirely staff work area and administrative offices for the library system. 


The board room table is no less than 80 years old, but ready for the next 80 years.  A library bureau table purchased in 1948 also is in the room with straight wood chairs acquired from the wood shop of the Ohio penal system in 1936.


Desks in the director’s office and fiscal officer’s office are recycled along with 30 year old file cabinets and wood shelving.


The technical services area recycled the book mending counters and work stations from 1988 as well as shelving.


The Carnegie building itself will be heated by the steam radiators and piping from 1902, although the boiler itself was replaced in 1999 and overhauled in 2016.


The air conditioning on the lower level will be brand new, along with wiring and new LED lighting, and much of the plumbing because it will pay itself back in a short time.


The main floor of the Carnegie building will have the same shelving installed in 1978, and the desk was dismantled and repurposed with a new top surface.  The flooring is the restored 1902 marble and wood floors.


Obviously the new addition is brand new, but the children’s room repurposes all the furniture from the former space including shelving and the famous red benches.


And yes, Frosty’s paper-mache figurines are returning with some having been renovated by the Nelson’s.


New furniture in the building includes “reading lobbies” on both levels to accommodate the new generation of devices that people carry from a cell phone to tablet to laptop computer.


The new reference room and computer room has brand new shelving and furniture to accommodate the books and equipment there, with the old reference shelving moving to the balcony in the Carnegie building.


New to the building will be two study rooms to allow individual studying or two people together to study or work on projects with computers in each room.


A third study room, slightly larger, will be in the former ladies restroom of the Carnegie building, not used as such since 1963.


The Carnegie building originally had a Ladies Retiring Room, and a Men’s Retiring Room, both with 1902 marble fixtures long gone, but quite attractions when the building first opened in neighborhoods full of outdoor toilets.


Which brings up another item reused --- the sewer line.  The City ran cameras and showed the 10 inch sewer line installed in May 1901 for only the library building to connect to the 3rd St. sewer a block away.


The library paid $ 550 to have the line installed in 1901, and it remains operational today for the library complex.


Don’t worry, lots of other utilities were upgraded and/or replaced, including two “rain gardens” to handle storm water.


We have tried to be good stewards of public funds in this project, but have also constructed an exciting new facility with things like upgraded Internet service via fiber optic.


And yes, we found the original telephone line from 1902, installed late in that project as phones were becoming commonplace at the time.


And yes, we found some 1902 gas line installed but never used as gas lights were being replaced with electrical lighting.


Hope you are getting excited for opening day sometime in the spring, and I wish I could give you an exact date --- and yes, I will hang around for a while even if it is after my retirement.