Library project makes progress

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(Photo by MARY MALONE) The construction of "Your Library Transformation" is well underway at the East Bonner County Library District's Sandpoint branch.

SANDPOINT — "Due to construction, expect mind-jarring noise, dust on everything, and the inability to find anything where it should be."

These words adorn one of the signs patrons of the East Bonner County Library District's Sandpoint branch will find as they enter the building, as the "Your Library Transformation" project continues at full speed.

"We have holes in the walls and lots of noise, and construction workers everywhere," said Marcy Timblin, public relations specialist for the library, adding that the construction is going "amazing" and the patrons have been "so patient" as things get moved around on almost a daily basis. 

The $2.7 million "Your Library Transformation" project includes the exterior expansion, as well as an interior remodel resulting in larger, more accessible community meeting rooms, an expanded Children’s Area, increased young adult and large print book collections, designated quiet and social areas, a teen room and maker space, among other additions.

To get the project going, library staff began raising money, which they needed raise $700,000 from the community. To date, they are only about $60,000 shy of that amount, Timblin said.

"It's been incredible — absolutely amazing," Timblin said. "And so much of it is just people dropping a dime at time. I just feel like everyone has had an opportunity to have some part in making it happen."

Library staff have been doing their part to move things around when required, on top of their regular work and helping patrons find what they need.

"The same is true for volunteers ... they're making time to do construction-related tasks, too, so everyone's just locking arms and jumping in there and doing stuff," Timblin said. "It's just so wonderful to see everybody just wanting to be involved and making it happen."

With the construction, the library's meeting rooms are closed for the time being, but Timblin said when they do reopen, those user groups will have more space. Mike Bauer, the library's programs coordinator, did a lot of research in the months leading up to the construction to find local meeting spots, Timblin said, so he could put together a document listing venues for library staff to recommend to people in the interim.

The library expansion is scheduled for completion by April. The original date was March, but some soil testing and other events set the construction crew back a couple of weeks. Northcon, Inc., a North Idaho company owned by Randy and Renay Smith of Athol, is the contractor for the project.

Timblin said crews are working to complete anything that needs done before the ground freezes so they can stay on schedule throughout the winter months. After the building expansion is completed, though, she said they will still have some work to do on the parking lot and landscape, which is weather dependent.

The library is open during regular hours, Monday-Saturday, throughout the construction period, with the exception of two to three weeks, probably in December, for installation of the fire suppression system, Timblin said. During that time, nobody will allowed in the building.

"But otherwise, we are going to be open," Timblin said. "Things are going to be hard to find, it's going to be noisy, there might be some trials involved, but we are doing everything we can to get on top of it. And most of all, we really want people to ask us questions."

Anyone who is having trouble finding what they need in the library should ask a staff member or volunteer. The digital library is a good resource as well, she said, because almost everything available in physical form in the library is also available in digital form. Anyone who needs help navigating the digital library is encouraged to call or stop by the library and someone will assist them.

Resources such as the digital library, as well as updates on the "Your Library Transformation" project, can be found on the library's website at ebonnerlibrary.org. The library can also be followed on many social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.

Finally, the library's coffee bar and petting zoo are closed due to the construction, according to another sign located over one of the stacks.

"We apologize for not ever having a coffee bar or petting zoo," the sign says. "For everything else that we do have, we are happy to help you find what you are looking for."

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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