While it may seem difficult to believe, our current library building, which we know as “the new library,” will be 10 years old next year. With almost a decade of use by the public, the building has been put through its paces: over 1,000,000 persons have walked through our doors since it opened in February 2009. It’s a large public building which is open seven days a week.
People frequently ask me questions about the building; how it is functioning and how it’s holding up. I’ll share some of those with you.
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
The answer to that question is always an easy one. I would have refurbished the existing table chairs from the old library and added new ones instead of replacing all of them. Those original table chairs were part of the 1972 library project. There’s a story about Charlie King, the rep for the library furniture company who sold the chairs, throwing one off a second story hotel balcony during a library convention to prove their durability.
What’s stood the test of time the best?
While time takes its toll on everything in a public building, nothing shows the wear like carpeting. The library project was taking place at a great time for owners – costs for labor and materials were reasonable, and we were able to purchase a very high grade of commercial carpeting. In visiting with our architect earlier this year, he commented that very few projects underway now could afford carpet of this quality and durability. With regular cleaning, it should easily accommodate another million pairs of shoes walking on it!
What improvements have you made since it opened?
Our goal is to keep the building looking like new and to improve its functionality on an ongoing basis. The most significant improvement we’ve made – and the one about which I’m most excited – is the LED project. About 95% of both interior and exterior lighting has now been replaced with LEDs. This not only saves the library some $10,000 per year in energy and materials costs but provides high quality lighting for both patrons and staff as well.
What concerns do you have about the building?
The McPherson soil is notorious for shifting, sinking, heaving, and settling, and with the current drought, those tendencies are even more pronounced. There are a couple of areas of concrete we’re keeping our eyes on.
Perhaps the best thing to know about our library building, however, is that it has the flexibility to change with the times. Whatever direction library collections and services take us in the future, “the new library” will be able to accommodate them.