First reported 7/30/2009 1:03 p.m.
With the Brookfield Public Library’s board of trustees putting the brakes on a plan to move the institution to another location, it is about to embark on a major refurbishing project, the first large-scale interior work on the library in a decade.
Work is expected to begin on the estimated $265,000 project in October, some time after the Taste of Brookfield event, which will be held at the library on Oct. 2. During the project, which is expected to last at least six weeks, the library, 3609 Grand Blvd., effectively will be closed.
“It would be too risky to have the public and staff nearby” during the work,” said Library Director Kimberly Litland.
But, Litland said, library staff is working out a plan to give access to the lower level of the library during construction in order to give patrons access to laptop computers and Internet service, two of the most popular programs the library offers.
Litland said that the library may also make available newspapers and other ready reference materials. But patrons will not be able to access or check out any other books, DVDs, CDs or reference materials in the library’s collection during that time. Brookfield library patrons will be able to use libraries in neighboring communities during the renovation.
“It’s really the ideal time of the year to do the work,” Litland said. “Our slowest times are in November and December around the holidays. Summer is our busiest time, with the summer reading program.”
A specific timeline for construction has not been set. The architectural firm for the project is PSA-Dewberry/BCA, with Norm Eallonardo serving as the library’s representative during construction.
The library board at its July 22 meeting approved soliciting bids for the work. No date has been set for opening those bids, Litland said.
The project will result in new carpeting for a large portion of the main floor and in the main meeting room on the lower level. In addition to a new paint job, the library will also be getting new furniture, which will replace the existing pieces that date back to 1986, when the library opened.
Ceramic tile will be placed in the area near the circulation desk and by the bathrooms, replacing the carpeting there now. A new vinyl tile floor will be laid in the storytime room on the main floor.
The new furniture will include a dozen new armchairs that will have attached desk tops (kind of like a school chair) so people can place laptop computers on them and use them as workplaces.
Part of the project will also bring 18 new electrical outlets to the floor of the library, a response to the incredible popularity of the library’s laptop computer program.
“We have people sitting anywhere there’s an outlet – in the back of the stacks, blocking walkways,” said Litland. “It’s mainly a safety issue.”
A major aspect of the refurbishment will be the installation of new service desks, which were part of the last major library renovation during 1998-99.
Currently, both the circulation desk near the entrance and reference desk in the middle of the library have desks that face in two directions and staff members work with their backs to one another.
When work is complete, the new circulation desk will face northwest toward the main entrance. The new reference desk will also face northwest toward the front of the library. Meanwhile, the book drop in the foyer will be walled off and moved to the front of the circulation desk.
In addition, there will be a new area in front of the circulation desk where patrons can pick up materials lent by other libraries.
The Brookfield Public Library building has undergone several changes and repairs since it was built just over 20 years ago. A decade after construction, it underwent a major renovation that saw the lower level finished and the main floor reconfigured, with service desks splitting the interior lengthwise.
In 2003, the board spent close to $140,000 to repair the building’s roof and spent another $10,500 in 2006 to fix leaky windows. In 2006, alone the board spent over $100,000 on interior fixes.
Those problems and the small size of the library prompted the board in 20007 to begin exploring the possibility of building a new library elsewhere in the village. The library board went so far as to buy one home on Arden Avenue, but the plan ultimately fizzled.