By Jeff LaBonte
APL Renov 14-1014_0012The Auburn Public Library has been operating in a limited capacity out of the library garage since October 6. The library hopes to reopen on October 27, if all work remains on schedule.

According to Library Director, Carolann MacMaster, the main library floor will have all new carpet, and will reopen with a new floor plan.  There will also be some technology upgrades to the building.

“We received a grant for $7,500 in new adaptive technology” says MacMaster.  “We will also be bringing in a new internet line that will improve internet service, and some new hardware will expand the wireless coverage to the entire building.  Right now, there are a few dead spots” she added.

The library also received $12,000 in capital improvement money for new computers and printers.  “We are looking at purchasing our own copiers” said MacMaster.  “Right now we lease, and it looks like it would be more cost effective for us to purchase them.”

For its part, the library is in disarray at the moment, reminiscent of the old adage that things have to get worse before they get better.  The sub-floor is exposed, and there are stacks of the old, square, glue down carpet tiles that have covered the floor for years.  The residual glue causes your shoes to stick, giving one the feeling of standing on a gigantic sheet of flypaper.

The back rooms and offices of the library are stacked with books, DVDs, CDs and other materials.  The library staff is taking the opportunity to sort through many of the collections to clear out damaged goods, relabel items when needed, and a variety of other “clean up” tasks.

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Nichols students help relabel children’s books.

On Tuesday this week, a group of 9 Nichols College students, part of the school’s “Nichols Gives Back” program, sat in a library meeting room sorting children’s ‘first reader’ books.  The students were adding large number labels to the front of these books, indicating the book’s reading level.

Says MacMaster, “When we reopen, we”ll have these first readers organized and shelved by reading level instead of mixed in the regular children’s stacks.  That will allow parents to quickly find age and level-appropriate books for their children.”

The Nichols students were busily looking through each book, determining its reading level if it was not already indicated on the book, and printing conspicuous labels to place on the book cover.

Continuing through the back office we headed to the library garage, where a small but efficient operation is being operated to keep the library available to residents during the renovations.

Walking back to the main library floor, MacMaster and Assistant Library Director Laura Wilson pointed out the Merriam Room, which is completely loaded with over 1,500 boxes of books, each labeled in the familiar library decimal system.  “It is organized, believe it or not” commented Wilson.

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The new main library layout plan.

In spite of what can only be called organized chaos, library staff chugs along.  A large board featuring the planned layout of the revamped space reminds everyone of the near future, when things can return to normal.

While all of the stacks (metal shelves) are currently stored in the children’s area, they will be returned to a very different configuration.  “We’ll have a defined young adult area now” says MacMaster. “The rest of the space we hope to make more comfortable, inviting and user friendly.”

The library expects to reopen on October 27, though that date may change.  In the meantime, obviously the regular children and teen activities are not being held.  There are limited library hours from 9:30 to 5:30, Monday through Friday in the garage, around the side of the library near the pond.

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Much of the library collection is boxed at the moment.