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October 21, 2013

Library board to hear renovation plan

West branch, general funding direction to be discussed

TERRE HAUTE — Hot on the heels of a just-completed major interior renovation, the Vigo County Library board of directors today will be looking at adding even more modifications to the 1970s-era main branch.

Fresh renovations recently completed in the library — at a cost of about $200,000 — included remodeling the entry area, new security equipment and, most importantly, automated check-out and return equipment.

At today’s 5:30 p.m. board meeting in the basement of the main branch, representatives of Holder Design, an architecture and graphics consulting firm, will present preliminary drawings for proposed renovations of the main branch.

These renovations, if approved, could include adding a teen room, something the library currently does not have. It would also consolidate all of the computer terminals, widely used for Internet access, to a single area in the reference wing of the library.

Currently, the library must staff two different computer areas, library director Kristi Howe said.

The purpose of the presentation today will simply be to see whether the library board approves of the general direction of the proposed renovations, Howe said. The board’s approval is required before renovation work could begin.

If all the renovations took place, the total cost would be about $500,000, Howe said. That money has already been set aside in the 2014 library budget; however, the state’s tax caps are expected to reduce library funding by a still-unknown amount.

The proposed renovations are also designed to take place in stages, so that funding and implementation could be flexible, Howe said. “The whole project is very scalable,” she said.

New carpeting and quiet study rooms are also a part of the proposed plans. New furniture is also an option, costing about $125,000, but that component could be eliminated or delayed at the board’s discretion, Howe said. Renovations would take place in stages to minimize effects on library patrons, she said.

n Also today, the board will hear an initial report from a committee that has been looking at options for library service in West Terre Haute.

The board has been considering the future of its West Terre Haute branch for years. It was the only branch not closed a few years ago when budget cuts required the VCPL to close branches at Plaza North, The Meadows and Southland Plaza.

There is no money yet set aside for any action regarding the West Terre Haute branch, Howe said.

The committee — made up of board members Hank Metzger, Jim Brown and Terry Jones — has worked with library staff on the question of the West Terre Haute branch in the past few months. The committee has identified a few possibilities, including renovating and remodeling an existing daycare facility in West Terre Haute or building a new branch at a new location. Those options would cost between $600,000 and $700,000, according to preliminary estimates.

No final action on the West Vigo branch is expected at today’s meeting, Howe said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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