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Library construction on schedule

By Staff | Sep 12, 2017

The backend of the library is currently under construction. MEGHAN MCCOY

The Sanibel Public Library Reimagined project, currently on schedule, initially stemmed from conversations being had about infrastructure – AC, the fire alarm system and plumbing due to the age of the building.

“The building is 25 years old and we really needed to upgrade,” Sanibel Public Library Executive Director Margaret Mohundro said. “We thought as long as we are doing that lets look at how the building is being used by the patrons.”

Three quarters of the work is construction patrons cannot see, such as improvements to the AC, fire suppression, plumbing, electrical and wireless upgrades. The other quarter the patrons will be able to see and experience once the library is completed, due to the modernization of services.

“It’s really a user driven design,” Mohundro said, due to the design incorporating input from the patrons. “Feedback and gut reactions and likes and dislikes to the architects (were incorporated). A lot of it is things we hear from the patrons. The way the patrons use the building. Our statistics of who is where and what is being used the most, checked out the most. We get a lot of input about how the building is being used and the trends for the next five, or 10 years.”

A focal point of the Sanibel Public Library is the community feel it provides. She said patrons want to use the library as a place they can socialize, hang out and see their friends.

The construction also includes new space for the Sanibel Public Library staff. MEGHAN MCCOY

“We have a lot of areas that are like living rooms. Lots of nice seating areas all around the building. Again for the studying, or deep reading, and the areas that will be louder because there are people socializing,” Mohundro said of the new space. “You will have your choice of loud, or quiet.”

There are many improvements to the current space, one of which is changing the space used for the big computer lab.

“When that opened 12 plus years ago, we had computers back there and people wore pagers to be called because it was so packed. As we have gone along, more and more people have their own devices of some kind. We have laptops, wireless printing, check out computers to use in the building. There are so many more ways, so you are not tied to a lab, or tied to a desk. It has changed. We don’t need a lab that big,” Mohundro said.

The library will have two mini labs once it reopens.

“The big lab now will be taken over by nonfiction. Books replacing computers,” she said. “That’s more of a quiet area. There will be a lab back there for heavier research, or people who need to do things like documents and letters and research that take some time and quiet thought.”

The mini lab towards the front of the library, Mohundro said will be generally used for quick business, such as checking email, printing boarding passes and internet searches.

With patrons in mind, another enhancement will include incorporating more natural light. The new library will feature windows that are extended, as far as its height.

“So you are going to have much more natural light coming in,” she said.

One of the most popular areas of the library is along the windows, where patrons enjoy sitting, which resulted in also rethinking other areas such as the height, and the way the bookshelves are lined up. Although the previous shelving will be used, some additions will be made for book displays.

“We are putting in a lot more book displays, especially with the fiction and nonfiction to really catch people’s eye,” Mohundro said. “That’s going to be a lot of fun, for me personally, and for patrons too. They will be changing all the time. We always do a lot of themed displays, which is fun. We can promote that more.”

Although the layout of the library will resemble much of what it looks like now when completed, it will have two service desks. The first one will be located in the same place, while the second will be placed at the rear of the library near the new entrance.

Another enhancement will include the furniture being on wheels, enabling the library to be used for multi-use spaces.

The library will also include study rooms, which can also be used for a multitude of ways, such as working with a business partner in another country.

“We are going to have a few rooms like that hold two to four people (with) all the latest technology. We get requests for that every day,” she said.

The downstairs meeting room will be expanded and it will also be equipped with the latest technology.

“We envision when we do book discussions, bringing in some of the authors via Skype,” Mohundro said. “Maybe hosting some of the Ted Talks, or if you are coming in to do a presentation and you need internet, and screens and projectors it will all be there very easy to use.”

The wireless connection will become even better, she said, when the library is completed. More than a mile of new duct work has been completed. The key component of the new library is adding the electrical, providing mobility and having technology much more easily integrated anywhere needed.

Another addition is the expansion of the reading porch. She said a chiller is being installed instead of the nine air condition units that are in place.

“It will be at the side of the building and it will be quieter,” Mohundro said.

Extra seating in the lobby will also be added.

New carpeting and upholstery, with the highest level of efficiency and recycle materials, will be added to the improved space. The patterns and colors will be reflective of the island.

“What we are going to see is a lot of blues and grays. A lot of swirls and waves,” Mohundro said. “Various colors of carpet will define areas.”

All of the lighting, all 800 light fixtures, are also being redone.

In addition to the patrons receiving an updated space, the library employees will also see improvements in their working environment.

“We get a lot of positive feedback about our staff and how good they are. We want to make sure they have what they need, so they can do their jobs well,” Mohundro said. “We reworked some staff areas.”

With the Sanibel Public Library partially opened, the interlibrary loan has skyrocketed. About two-thirds of the library’s books are in a climate control storage facility in Fort Myers until the library is completed.

“We tell people that if it is not on the shelf we can probably get it somewhere in Florida, if not we will go anywhere to get it,” she said. “In the state of Florida we have a program, the Dlli, a delivery service for interlibrary loan. It comes every day. We go on a worldwide bibliographic database to find stuff that people need and bring it in. That is a standard library thing worldwide, but in Florida it is nice because there is a statewide delivery service, so we can get those things relatively quickly.”

Downloadable books, audio and magazines are also on the rise.

The construction began in early June. Chris-TEL Construction and HBM Architects from Cleveland, Ohio, who specializes in library design were chosen.

“It seems at any time they have 20, or 30 libraries around the country that they are working on at a time,” Mohundro said about HBM Architects. “That was a big plus with the board selecting them. Chris-TEL is in Fort Myers and they have a lot of experience with schools and doing construction well while we are open. That was an attraction because the library board wanted to make sure we were open as much as possible during construction.”

So far, she said they have been very happy with the construction crew and architects.

Drawings are currently tapped on the wall near the construction, so patrons can see what the library will look like once it is done.

In January the construction will flip sides of the library, opening the new space towards the back of the library while the front is being redone.

“The open side now will be closed,” Mohundro said.

The library should reopen early fall of 2018 with a few events scheduled, including tours.