March 23, 2015
For the first time in over 30 years, the Children’s Room in Lee Memorial Library will undertake a renovation celebrating our community’s commitment to education and early literacy. This renovation includes increased technology and soft seating as well as new early literacy materials and accessible shelving for all ages. The layout, furniture, and carpet samples are on display in the library for public viewing.
This renovation will occur through the month of April, beginning April 4 th and extending through the month until completion. During this time, select children’s materials will remain available to the public in the main library and programs will continue as scheduled, but the Children’s Room will be closed to the public. Due to this, space may be limited after school, but we invite you to continue to use the library during our regular hours: Monday-Tuesday from 10am-9pm, Wednesday from 10am-5pm, Thursday from 10am-9pm, and Friday-Saturday from 10am-5pm.
Both the Board of Trustees and the Friends of the Library are excited to have the opportunity to give back to the community through a renovation that will educate, empower, enlighten, and enrich the lives of our children, our future. We are hoping to reopen the Children’s Room to the public in May.
I wrote this letter under the direction of Lee Memorial Library’s Board of Trustees. Prior to writing this letter, the Board of Trustees officially discovered that the plan to renovate our children’s library would not accommodate close to 23,000 items currently hosted on the library’s shelves. This was something I had anticipated, having accurately measured our collection and given fair warning a few months before.
I spent the few weeks we had before the renovation re-allocating my time imbetween programs to complete a massive overhaul of the collection. We were fortunate to have many items that needed to be discarded due to age or disuse. However, at least 6,000 items discarded were in near-new condition. Using my contacts with Paterson school teachers, various charities across the state, and local professionals, I was able to find homes for these materials without needless destruction.
It was a time of change for the library. Our director had resigned in January and we were spread thin in every aspect of our work environment. A renovation had been approved for the Children’s Area and funds had already been allocated to the project. Contractors had been reviewed and approved in my time with the Planning Subcommittee. The renovation was going to happen, whether we had a director or not.
As the only full-time librarian on staff, supervision of the project fell to me. Due to the varying times of contracted work, I would often pull 70 hour weeks. I would drive two hours to the library as part of my regular commute and get to work at 6:00AM to meet with the painters or carpet installers. I would stay until 8:00PM to meet with members of the Board of Trustees to discuss the hiring of new staff members or pages. All of this would occur while I also held regular programs in the library, proposed purchases for new library signage, managed the daily accounts, and supervised the incredible work our circulation staff was doing in their new foray into collection development.
We completed the project with very few project difficulties. We only had three. When we cut into the concrete floor for the electrical line to the computer station, there was no wet stone-cutter to keep the dust down; this was resolved with quick work from the electrician and a very large plastic sheeting sealing the room. Second, our carpet installer was not directly connected to the man who we hired, requiring us to directly supervise every aspect of the carpet installation to keep it in line with the initial design. Third, on the first viewing of the repainted bookshelves, members of the Board of Trustees insisted that three more coats of paint be applied to them. Our painter obliged us very kindly and without extra charge.
The room was completed with almost a week to spare before the grand opening. Plenty of time to put the books back on the shelves.
The result of such work was astounding. Thanks to our designer, Soyka-Smith Design Studios, the room was a vision of bright contrasts and pops of color. The furniture and quality of materials proved most valuable in the final decision-making process. Even now, I go back to visit the library and am awed by the craftsmanship and enduring qualities of the room.