The Charles R. Jonas Library in Lincolnton recently completed most of its renovations, and already is attracting more visitors who are taking advantage of its new-and-improved amenities.
“Itâ€™s so much more inviting,” Jackie Shaw, supervisor of the library, told the Times-News Tuesday, also noting that more people will come in and actually stay for a while now.
The renovation project included a new circulation desk, which was relocated from the middle of the library to the side to make room for additional computer workstations. As such, there are now 17 Internet-access computers for visitors to use, as opposed to the initial eight, which has helped to eliminate wait times and crammed space.
Shaw said library staff members have already seen an increase in computer-users for the month from roughly 2,000 to 3,500, and that includes two days when the computers were down due to a network failure.
With wireless Internet access also provided, three work carrels have been left empty for those wanting to bring a laptop, while also leaving room for future expansion.
Library Director Jennifer Sackett said moving the circulation desk was a decision made after re-evaluating the flow and layout of the space, which she said has really opened things up.
“Itâ€™s a huge difference,” she added.
She also said the new circulation desk is much more patron-friendly and accessible, noting that the old one was too high up for young children or those in wheelchairs to reach comfortably.
Other improvements include the childrenâ€™s section, which now has wider and lower shelving with dividers that make it much more kid-friendly for children searching for books.
There is also a “book nook” for children to lie down and get comfortable while reading and three new computer stations. The entire area also has an updated color scheme, as well.
“Itâ€™s a totally different atmosphere,” Sackett said, noting it is now much more colorful, up-to-date and, most importantly, functional.
The young-adult section of the library has also received some revamping, namely more shelf space and some cafÃ©-height tables.
“It has a whole corner now,” she said.
Additionally, some new carpet, cabinets, ceiling tiles and wallpaper have been installed in parts of the building.
Though Sackett said she thinks there is still room for future improvement and minor modifications, the library “did what we could with the money we had,” while working with an older building by focusing on those changes that would have the greatest impact.
As previously reported in the Times-News, various grants and private donations from the community have made the renovations, which began in August, possible, with the county also providing some funding after approving the renovations at a Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting last summer.
Timken donated $75,000, First Federal Savings Bank donated $10,000 and the Lincoln County Community Foundation donated $1,500.
Additionally, the 2010 Leadership Lincoln Class conducted a fundraiser that resulted in $6,000 of funding to purchase furniture for the childrenâ€™s area of the library.
In the adults reading area, new reading chairs have been donated by Ethan Allen of Maiden. The company also agreed to reupholster library table chairs as a community service. Both CMC-Lincoln and RSI Home Products have chipped in by providing flat-panel computer monitors and kitchen and storage cabinets, respectively.
Sackett stressed that all of the changes were made with the community, not staff members, in mind, adding that the library is a place the public uses to get online and connect with family, to work on homework and projects, to tutor and to browse newspapers, magazines and books, among many others.
The project was also driven by the community, Sackett said, through support from both local businesses and individuals.
She also noted that, despite a tight construction schedule, the library wanted to remain open throughout the renovation project rather than closing temporarily.
“Itâ€™s harder to do renovations while trying to function,” she pointed out, saying staff members spent quite a bit of time and muscle shifting things around constantly.
Nonetheless, they were able to continue providing services throughout construction.
Sackett said itâ€™s rewarding to see her vision for the library come to fruition, especially when watching visitors see and enjoy the new space for the first time.
“It really is a nice environment now,” she said.
She also expressed how grateful she is to members of the community for providing so much support.
“I hope itâ€™s something theyâ€™re proud of,” she added.