It's amazing what a bit of new carpet can do to freshen up a room, especially when what you're replacing is 20 years old and been trod upon by hundreds of thousands of feet, but the interior of the Richmond Memorial Library has a whole new feel to it after being close for two weeks for some renovations, including new carpet.
Workers covered 26,000 square feet of floor space in that span of time.
“This is part of the massive capital improvement campaign that was approved by Batavia City School District voters in 2013,” said Library Director Bob Conrad (pictured). “When I started here in July 2014, the roof was already being replaced. Two ADA-compliant parking spaces and a new driveway were added this summer. We appreciate the public’s patience as those improvements were made.
There’s a lot more to come, like energy-efficient windows and a drive-up book return, but the library will be open through the remainder of the renovation. Just for the carpet, we had to close, because we had to move pretty much everything in sight.”
Moving everything in the library was not a simple undertaking.
“School district crews had to move all of the shelves and desks and furniture to one side of the library so the old carpet could be stripped," he said. "Then as soon as the new carpet was down, they had to put everything back. And then, back and forth again, to do the other side. This was going on upstairs and downstairs simultaneously.
"But before school crews could move anything, library staff and volunteers had to move all of the music and movies and most of the books. We had them in piles and in rows in all of the uncarpeted rooms. It was hectic at times but I’m pretty sure we got everything back in order."
Next on the agenda for the library is expanding media and youth services.
“We’ve budgeted to get some additional shelving to expand the Media collection," Conrad said. "It’s a full 30 percent of our materials circulation, but it does not command a 30-percent share of our floor space. You have to take a merchandising approach to what the community is using and let popular collections grow.
"And we’re looking at ways to bring console video games into the library, in a limited way at first. The people who ask us for video games are not who you probably imagine, kids and teens and such. They are adults in their 40s and 50s. We seem to be overdue for their inclusion.”
Conrad reminded parents that the library is still a great place for after-school study help. Children under 10 must be accompied by a parent or supervising adult.
“We have a certified teacher in the library every day after school – she’s there for crowd control as much as for homework help, that’s just how busy we are," Conrad said. "And we have an expanded Youth Services team in place, led by our new Youth Services Librarian, Andrea Fetterly. Andrea was our Teen Librarian until very recently.
"When we had two Children’s librarians resign in rapid succession, I asked Andrea, who has a degree in Child and Adolescent Development and years of supervisory experience, to schedule herself in the Children’s Room and supervise the team of Library Associates I assembled to get us through the Summer Reading Program. That left the Teen Corner unstaffed for some of the summer, but Children's Services are the higher priority.
"Now, it’s counter-intuitive, but putting Andrea in charge of both areas actually allowed us to bring on more hands to cover both service points, at no extra cost. We were able to double the number of Library Associates on staff by provisionally appointing Katie Elia to a full-time position at our board meeting last week. She’s been with us for nine years on a part-time basis, and has her background in Psychology and Social Services to families and children.
"She joins Kelly March, who’s been with us nearly as long and is formerly the director of the Corfu Free Llibrary. Finally, we retain two part-time recruits, one of whom is a library graduate school student at the University of Buffalo – a future Children’s Librarian in the making. The goal is to expand on Teen and Children's programming, and to keep that Teen Corner more consistently staffed after school and in the summer.”
After-school programs will include craft projects, supervised computer gaming, Lego Club, Coder Club, Chess Club, and pick-up matches of collectible trading card games like Yugioh and Magic: The Gathering.
“But nothing’s on the calendar yet!” Conrad said. “We went right from Summer Read to being closed for renovations, and the staff appointments weren’t finalized until last week. Believe me though, there will be plenty of opportunities for kids to spill glitter on the new carpet -- we're here every day.”