By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
With a few finishing touches to go, one local library is nearing its grand re-opening after being closed for renovations.
The Gardendale-Martha Moore Public Library is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Dec. 16, but head librarian Connie Smith said there is still much work to do to make that deadline.
Crews are waiting on a panel needed to complete the sprinkler system; the part is late by several weeks.
There are also some furnishings missing, but Smith said the library can open without those things; for safety reasons the facility will not open to the public until the sprinkler system and other crucial items are complete, Smith said.
The library renovation almost doubles the square footage from 7,730 to 12,715.
The project budget was $1.2 million, paid for partly by a $300,000 state grant, which requires a $300,000 match from the city.
The city in October 2010 increased sales tax in Gardendale by 1 cent, which put sales tax at 10 percent and went into effect in January 2011. The city council earmarked $1 million of those funds to pay for the library renovation. The tax is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.
Smith said the library board first started discussing a building expansion 12 years ago, and discussions got serious about five years ago. She said the library board and staff have held several fund-raisers to help pay for the expansion. The library has also received several grants, which have gone into the rebuilding fund.
The journey to a revamped facility has been tough for library employees and for the community, but Smith said the end result is worth it.
“Everything has been touched. There has been a total refreshing of the building,” she said. Besides the addition, crews repainted and refurbished the entire building.
The library staff also reorganized the layout; the computer room is now across from circulation, and the fiction and nonfiction sections are in different places. The new part contains areas for children and teens, along with some office space and storage.
Designers gave the teen section an industrial look, with brick on the interior wall and exposed duct work.
The outside has also been revamped. Smith said the city of Gardendale has done some landscaping. The parking lot is also redesigned, but it has the same number of parking spaces.
“The public is anxious and ready for us to open and so are we,” Smith said.