Foundation approves $117,000 in funding
By Angie Landsverk
A fresh coat of paint, new carpeting, self checkout stations and a new main desk are among the improvements planned at the Waupaca Area Public Library this year.
“The library foundation recently approved funding for projects in Phase 1 and Phase 2, up to $117,000,” said Library Director Peg Burington.
That took place in January, following the $105,000 bequest the library received last year from the estate of Anna M. Benson.
Benson was a patron of the city’s old Carnegie library and did not have any descendants, Burington said.
“She left the library a good part of her estate,” Burington said.
The bequest put the foundation in a position to be able to help the library, she said.
“Otherwise, we would have had to do a capital campaign,” Burington said.
The $117,000 in funding will include $74,000 for Phase 1 projects and $43,000 for Phase 2 projects.
The remodeling project is also being funded through city taxes.
Taxes will fund $82,900 of Phase 1 projects and $40,000 of Phase 2 projects, for a total of $122,900.
The cost of the first phase of projects is expected to be $156,900 and the second phase $83,000 for a total estimated cost of about $240,000.
“The first couple phases of projects are about making the patron experience better,” Burington said.
In Phase 1, the city is covering the cost of painting all levels of the library, carpeting the upper level and stairs, purchasing media tags and printers, buying staff workstations, putting $5,000 toward the new main desk and repositioning the automatic door button.
The city bought the staff workstations last year.
The outside funding is covering the boring for electrical, telephone and network cables for the new main desk, $19,000 toward the cost of the new main desk, three self-checkout stations, slatwall, security gates for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reading, a freestanding display for new books and the replacement of catalog stations with tablet kiosks.
The two display units for new books are already in the library.
The next step, Burington said, is for the common council to choose the vendor for the carpeting.
As soon as that takes place, a finish may be chosen for the library’s new main desk.
Burington hopes the painting and carpeting parts of the project take place this spring.
Carpeting tiles will be installed, which will be a savings, she said.
That means the shelving may stay in place, with the tiles placed around it.
Furniture which may be moved will be moved.
In the future, if part of the carpeting needs to be replaced, it will be by tile.
Once the main desk is ordered, it will take three months for it to arrive here.
It will be a three-unit desk for both circulation and reference.
“We wanted a single point of service, so patrons can come to one place and take care of all their needs,” Burington said.
Last December, the library’s old reference desk was donated to the Waupaca Historical Society.
The three-unit desk will allow for seated interactions with patrons. Staff will be able to flip computers around to help patrons. Training on tablets may also take place.
Each of the three units will be independent of each other, with the availability to change the height of the middle section.
The existing main desk, original to this library, will go on the state auction site.
Once sold, those funds may also go toward the library’s renovation, she said.
Those who visit the library will notice tape on the carpeting in front of the current circulation desk.
That shows how the new desk will be placed further out than the present desk.
Burington said that will allow for future expansion needs in the back work room.
Three self-checkout stations will also be placed in the library this year – two on the main level and one downstairs.
“We’ve been talking about self-checkout for 12 years,” she said. “We were ready to invest in self-checkout a couple years ago but wanted to complete the RFID process first.”
Library staff are in the process of tagging all library materials.
The RFID tag identifies the material and also has security on it.
The tags will thus remove some of the repetitive hand motions staff currently make. It will also free them up for other tasks, including programs and training patrons, Burington said.
The decision to hold off on purchasing self-checkout units benefited the library.
Burington said the price of the technology dropped and is also more user friendly.
“We want to make it available for those who want to use it but will always have staff at the desks,” she said. “It might be fun for kids to check out their own books.”
Phase 1 also includes a rearrangement of the library’s space.
The large print book area already expanded into where the new book shelves and audio book shelves were.
Staff relocated the audio books to the magazine and newspaper area and placed the new books on the new display units.
“We had a big corridor between the new books and large print books, which we didn’t need,” Burington said. “We’re trying to create more space for people to sit, gather.”
The computer station will be moved into one line, the microfilm machines will be relocated to space in front of windows, and the coffee station will be moved to a new gathering area, with the Friends Book Sale relocated to the lower level.
The current security gates will be replaced with RFID compatible gates, and the automatic door button will be relocated to a free-standing accessible kiosk.
Burington said the library did not have security gates when it was built, and the current automatic door button is not easily accessible when exiting the library.
Tablet kiosks will also be placed on the ends of shelves, replacing catalog computers.
Everything in Phase 1 will happen sometime this year, Burington said.
Phases 2, 3
The Phase 2 projects will include patron computer station furniture for privacy, a digital outdoor sign, carpeting in the lower level, reupholestering 29 chairs and updated lighting.
There may also be opportunities to create outdoor spaces.
Beyond that, Phase 3 includes the construction of a back wall to make room for an Automated Material Handling System and to then purchase and install such a system.
The estimated cost to purchase and install that type of system is between $60,000 and $150,000.
“It’s a big project with a big price tag,” Burington said. “We’re not pursuing it now.”
She said the projects planned for 2016 are with the idea of “making the patron experience great.”
Chartered in 1900, Waupaca’s old library building opened in June 1914. The new building was completed in October 1993.
“The painting and carpeting will make it look fresh and modern. It will be a facelift for the library, along with improvements,” Burington said.