Library open after closure for asbestos abatement

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Engineering plans for the new Jefferson Room at Warren Public Library show how the room will look when the library renovations are complete in the fall.

Warren Public Library has cleared a hurdle along the way to its renovation finish line.

Last week the library closed its doors for asbestos abatement. Asbestos flooring was successfully removed from the basement, according to Director Kelli Knapp.

That went well, but there will be another round of abatement in the spring, she said.

Contractors also used the week to handle some “noisy construction work on the first floor” without disturbing patrons, Knapp said.

The shelving has been cleared out of the basement, making way for a large open space that will include a number of different areas that will be part of the new teen space. Those spaces will include meeting and study areas, a gaming space, a green screen video space, a Whisper Room recording studio, a maker space, and the Teen Services Specialist’s office.

The Jefferson Room in a front corner of the basement is getting a makeover. “This room was just not a friendly room,” Knapp said. “Now, it’s going to be a nice meeting room for the public.”

Next to it will be an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant family restroom. The restrooms upstairs will be turned into another ADA family restroom.

Upstairs, walls have been framed in in the reading and study rooms to house air conditioning units. One of those HVAC closets abuts the spiral staircase from the old front entrance to the Wetmore Gallery. The historic architecture will be preserved.

“We’re keeping as much of the structural integrity as we can and still provide air conditioning,” Knapp said.

With the teen space moving in downstairs, the Friends of the Library Book Cellar will move to the first floor across from the circulation desk (next to one of the HVAC closets) – and possibly be renamed.

The project is on schedule for a projected opening in the fall. But Knapp knows that could change in a building originally built in 1916.

Like the partially-blocked sewer line that contractors had to find, dig up, clear out, and pour new concrete over, “We expect that there will be things that we didn’t expect,” she said.

The library will remain open when possible and close as needed during the renovation.


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