With $1 million in upgrades and improvements mostly complete, the Hoquiam Timberland Library reopens Tuesday at 10 a.m.
At first blush, the building looks much the same as it did before the work started in July. Most of the furniture, including tables that have been in the building since it first opened in 1911, remains the same, though it has been cleaned and polished. What is noticeable, beside that new carpet smell, is the more open, light and user-friendly layout of the top floor.
“More airy is what we were going for,” said library manager Mary Thornton Friday morning, as she and staff members Katie Lutz and Laurie Enholm restocked shelves, vacuumed and performed other last-minute preparations.
The library closed Oct. 11. While shuffling the library’s collection around during interior work, staff took some items out of circulation and removed some of the shelving that held it, donating some items, and shelves, to the Polson Museum. The result for the library is a well-lit space that allows easy pass through between shelves and more room to sit, relax and read.
That doesn’t mean the collection has shrunk all that much. Staff has been restocking between 38,000 and 40,000 books, magazines, DVDs, audio books and compact discs since just after Thanksgiving.
The teen and children’s areas are stocked and ready. Friday, electricians were scheduled to install additional electrical outlets stretching from the computer stations toward the 7th Street wall. The same will be done soon on the K Street side of the top floor, but for now tables will be equipped with power strips so patrons can plug in their devices. Thornton said the library is also trying out one lamp with outlets and USB ports to see if that fits the bill.
New energy efficient lights were installed Nov. 15. The electrical system has been updated, as has the heating and ventilation system. Interior painting was recently completed on both floors. The new insulation was placed just days ago. Thornton said new interior signage is on the way; as Lutz pointed out, some of the existing signs were outdated and had to be covered up to keep from pointing patrons in the wrong direction.
Downstairs, the small conference room is being turned into a “quiet room,” said Thornton. She said at times the volume level upstairs can rise to where some patrons may be distracted; the quiet room is a place where those patrons can read in complete peace. The meeting room downstairs, with its new carpet and windows and fresh paint, will soon house a number of regular groups that met regularly there before the closure.
The exterior of the Carnegie building has been cleaned, and the concrete flashing at the base of the brickwork has been redone, which will help remedy some of the leaking problems of the past. The 7th Street sidewalk and entryway have been repaved to remove tripping hazards, and the roof drains have been repaired. The intricate facade pieces around the top of the building have been cleaned and the details are clearly noticeable now.
The entry doors have been an issue, but will not be updated in time for the reopening.
“It was a real struggle to find someone who can make the entry doors,” said Hoquiam city administrator Brian Shay. “We finally got someone committed to doing them, but not until January.”
There won’t be a great deal of fanfare Tuesday, though the library staff is very excited about being back in familiar territory after having been farmed out for a few months to other libraries in the region. Thornton said it was fun to experience other libraries, but she is happy to be back home.
The library project was funded by a $705,000 State Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Commerce, a $250,000 capital budget appropriation by the Legislature and approximately $40,000 in grants and donations from local organizations and individuals.
A reception celebrating the reopening will happen after the first of the year. Thornton said she didn’t think scheduling one during the holidays would be as well received, but didn’t want to hold up the reopening for any reason.