Major library construction coming during summer

Change will be as much a part of the Westfield Washington Public Library in 2013 as its books, programs and resources when site work begins on the building’s 7,000-square-foot expansion and renovation in early spring.

Library Director Sheryl Sollars said the construction was expected to be completed by November, but the library will undergo several changes before the work is completed.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We can’t wait for that day to put the shovel in the ground.”

Some of the noticeable temporary changes coming include a new entrance and circulation desk as the space directly inside the main entrance is gutted.

“We’ll move some of our offices into the addition while we renovate the front part,” Sollars said. “We’re thinking of how we are phasing it.”

Sollars said the $2-million facility renovation would include replacing carpets and repairing the bathrooms, which currently have tiles coming off the walls. Space reallocation will provide greater efficiency by creating one desk for check out.

“One desk is more efficient and saves taxpayers’ money,” Sollars said.

The project also includes a designated computer lab/business center and study rooms that will provide meeting areas for four to six people with one room capable of holding eight to 10 people. The new teen area will also have study rooms.

Sollars said one of the biggest needs of the library would be addressed by the construction. A 1,000-square-foot community room will be built in the lower area of the library. The space, which had a capacity of 125 people and includes a kitchen, will provide an area for programming and for community organizations to meet, Sollars said.

“Our programming continues to increase in attendance and we have not added any programming space since 1994,” Sollars said.  “Actually, we have decreased the amount of space due to the elimination of the meeting room planned during that expansion.”

Despite all the changes, Sollars believes the construction will not affect patrons or cause the library to close.

“That’s our plan,” she said.

At $0.0439, the library is the third smallest amount of the Westfield tax rate – behind solid waste, which is $0.00320, and township at $0.00830. Library Board President Mike Thomas said the $2-million bond would not raise the current tax rate, only prolong it until 2022. Before any ground is moved, Thomas said the library was already saving the taxpayer some money.

“Bonds sold at half the predicted interest rate. It was projected to be 3 percent and sold at 1.7 percent,” he said. “That’s a direct savings of $250,000 over projected costs. You always assume high for interest rates but this is very good.”

New Hours

The Westfield Washington Public Library is expanding its hours this year. Director Sheryl Sollars said the library would be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday beginning in March. Sollars said several patrons were forced to visit other libraries because Westfield’s was closed that day.

“That’s a big deal,” she said. “We wanted to add back some hours and a lot of residents want to use the library on Sunday.”

WWPl is currently open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.