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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Getting the Main Library "Ready"

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 12, 2017


Have you heard it said that every decade or so, you should move everything out of your house and put it in a truck, drive around the block and then return it all again to your house.


Why?  You will get rid of at least one-third of the stuff just by loading the truck.


I guess we should have done that at the Main Library, as the current clean-out underway for the renovation and construction is finding lots of stuff for the recycling bin.


Librarians are notorious for keeping lots of odds and ends, since you never know when you will need something.


My own files were the worst.  I did keep the file with the two words in the English language that end in “gry” as well as the argument that there are two more such words claimed by the British.


But, I recycled correspondence from the 1980s that had no permanent relevance today, as well as e-rate files more than 10 years old since they said we could eliminate them.


I sent all the extra pens and pencils that I have picked up at library workshops and meetings to the Schiappa Branch for use.


When the bids for construction had to be rejected for re-bidding, we continued with the plans to close the Main Library to the public as scheduled.


It had taken weeks of computer programming for the closure, as well as planning, and moving of books, equipment and materials, and I have positive feeling for the re-bidding of the project.


There is a lot of preparation needed before construction even starts.


The Children’s Library has been boxed up and moved to the South Room, the shelving is off to storage. 


Other lower level equipment and furniture has also been placed in storage, as everything will be reused in one way or another.


Old floor tile from the 1950s and earlier has to be removed prior to construction work, as well as ductwork on the roof and some pipe insulation, so better to have that done now.


For over 6 months, I have been working with utilities that are around the Main Library building that have to be relocated due to the construction work.


I have learned a lot about electricity, telephone, Internet services, cable, water, sewer, and gas; none of which was covered in library school.


Perhaps the most interesting utilities are the 1950 telephone cable that goes “over top” of the existing library building and needs to be relocated as the new building will “run into it.”


Or the cast iron sewer line that was installed in 1901 specifically for the building by the Library Board that runs under Slack Street for 3 blocks and is still in great condition and will serve the new construction.


We apologize to everyone for the closure of the Main Library during construction, but we will lose restrooms and utilities will be disrupted from time to time, and of course part of the building will be missing for a while.


I like to look forward to the renovation and construction and the new street-level entrance that will be appreciated by all.


And, for the first time in 115 years we will move books “and stuff” around the building on carts with an elevator --- no more creeping up and down the spiral or narrow stairways with canvas bags or armloads of “things.”


Many of the Carnegie buildings had “at least” a book elevator or dumb waiter, but for whatever reason, ours never did.


There was supposed to be a 4 level book stack in our building, which never happened, so perhaps that structure contained the book elevator that-never-happened.


One of our librarians commented that he desire was never to carry a stack of books up or down the stairway.