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Library closes as next phase of Your Library Reimagined set to kick off

By Staff | Jan 26, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI The first phase of the Your Library Reimagined project at the Sanibel Public Library is finished. It involved upgrading the building's infrastructure, along with renovations like new carpeting and paint.

The Sanibel Public Library closed earlier this week as staff and construction crews begin preparing for the second phase of the Your Library Reimagined project, which has a September completion date.

Closed since Jan. 20, the library is set to reopen on Feb. 1. During the nearly two-week closure, employees and hired movers will relocate the shelving, books and materials, furniture and such from the section of the library that was operational during the first phase to the newly renovated area.

Margaret Mohundro, executive director of the library, explained that about half of the library has remained open to the public since the project started in May. With phase one complete, the library’s operations will shift to the newly renovated area so crews can begin phase two and finish the job.

“So this first part has been about eight months,” she said.

At a price tag of $5.9 million, the Your Library Reimagined project involves redoing the library’s infrastructure – heating, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, wireless networks – along with installing new windows and LED lights for energy efficiency, plus carpeting and paint.

TIFFANY REPECKI Sanibel Public Library Executive Director Margaret Mohundro looks over the Your Library Reimagined plans with project superintendent Joe Filkowski, of Chris-Tel Construction.

“It’s a beautiful building, beautiful design, very solid,” Mohundro said.

However, the building is over 25 years old, with a rear addition at about 13 years.

She noted that plumbing issues were a routine occurrence at the library.

“Systems at that age, we needed to upgrade,” Mohundro said. “The big thing was infrastructure.”

During the temporary closure, thousands of items of material will be relocated.

TIFFANY REPECKI Part of phase of the Your Library Reimagined project at the Sanibel Public Library included extending the outdoor reading porch for patrons, which will have rocker chairs added to it.

“We’re moving probably 30,000 to 35,000 books, movies, magazines,” she said, adding that the library has another 40,000 or so items that have been sitting in storage in Fort Myers since the project’s start.

“We are reusing our shelving,” Mohundro said.

The movers hired to help specialize in library moves.

“We’ll be working alongside them,” she said.

Because the library will be closed to the public, none of the programming nor classes will take place. Patrons can return items via the book drop, but items cannot be checked out, renewed or held.

TIFFANY REPECKI The second public entrance added to the building as part of phase one.

Mohundro noted that overdue fines will not be assessed during the closure.

“We will be answering the phone,” she said. “We expect to have that available, but there may be occasional outages.”

The library’s 24/7 services, including eBooks, streaming movies, downloading audiobooks and magazines and more, is expected to remain operational and usable by the public.

“That will all be, for the most part, available,” Mohundro said.

Once the Your Library Reimagined project is completed, the library will have a new second public entrance, a new elevator and new steps, along with two small computer labs rather than one large one.

TIFFANY REPECKI A contractor works on hooking up the new data room at the Sanibel Public Library.

“The layout’s going to be different,” she said.

There will be a new fire alarm system and an extended reading porch with rocker chairs.

“Out Internet and wireless service will be greatly improved,” Mohundro said.

The new energy-efficient windows and LED lights will allow for more natural light inside of the building. Meanwhile, new carpeting and paint will give the library an updated and fresh look.

“The color scheme going to be different,” she said, adding that there will be more blues, grays and beiges. “More reflecting what you see in the Gulf and the sand – our environment and setting.”

The existing chairs will be reused after they are reupholstered.

“We have very comfortable chairs,” Mohundro said.

HBM Architects, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, was hired for the project.

“The firm specializes in library building and design,” she said.

As for funding Your Library Reimagined, about $5.5 million came from reserves and a fund balance – money that had been building for years for the upgrades. Grants and gifts also helped cover the costs.

“We recently received a grant from the Sanibel Public Library Foundation for $250,000 for the renovation,” Mohundro said.

About 29,000 square feet of public space, the library had approximately 150,000 visitors during the fiscal year 2016-2017. It offers more than 200 programs per year on a range of topics, from World War II lectures and book talks, to preschool storytimes. Over 9,000 people attended the mix of programs.

“We are one of the busiest libraries in the state per capita,” she said.

The library was the first in the state to receive a kiosk that enables patrons to rent out laptops. It also has won several national awards over the years for its programming, usage by patrons and more.

Asked about the public, Mohundro explained that they have expressed excitement.

“People are very excited,” she said of the project. “They have been very very patient and very supportive and understanding.”