Library expected to reopen in January

Robert Amaral cuts brick Tuesday morning as part of the ongoing renovation to the library on North Road. The estimated completion date has been moved from November to January. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN

Robert Amaral cuts brick Tuesday morning as part of the ongoing renovation to the library on North Road. The estimated completion date has been moved from November to January. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN

Although progress to renovate the public library on North Road continues, the building may not reopen until 2024.

Library director Lisa Sheley said the energy recovery unit for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is on backorder. That unit, she said, is important for the HVAC system to operate safely and efficiently. Completing the staff room also needs to wait because the floor in that area must be open to get the unit into the basement. The initial completion date of Nov. 2 “will likely not be feasible.” Sheley said they won’t start installing shelving and restocking books until construction is complete.

“The delay in delivery means that the library likely will not open until the beginning of January,” she said.

Work on the library began in December after voters approved a $600,000 bond, which gave the library the money to sign its deal with contractor E.W. Burman for the $4.64 million project. The library moved its operations from North Road in November to the second floor of the clubhouse at the Jamestown Golf Course. Hours at the temporary site are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Sheley said electrical wiring and the HVAC system were removed at the North Road site, and the restrooms were gutted so new fixtures can be installed. The sprinkler and security systems have been updated.

The building currently is an “empty shell,” according to Sheley, but that should change during the summer when walls, fixtures and lighting will be installed. Carpet also will be laid down before the furniture is placed.

“Every piece of the project concerning design is being decided by our design committee, from carpeting to bathroom stall dividers to tile in the vestibule,” she said.

Work has since shifted to the exterior of the building. Edward Burman Jr., president of E.W. Burman, said interior demolition is complete. The three additions, which will expand the footprint by 1,700 square feet, currently are being constructed in full view of passersby on North Road.

“The brickwork and the blockwork are done, and we’re putting the roofs on those additions,”

Burman said. “Mechanical, piping and electrical rough wiring is all underway.”

Burman estimated his work will be done in the fall. His firm also is working on the library in Narragansett and already has completed libraries in Warwick, North Smithfield and Burrillville.

“We like libraries,” he said.

One of the biggest changes to the library is its layout because the adult and youth sections are switching places. The adult collection of books will be moved closer to the entrance.

The youth area will be divided into two sections. One section will be a room for teens and tweens, which “is intended for middle school and high school students to do homework, socialize and have a safe space to interact.”

“There will be comfy seating, a bar-height counter with stools, and a collaboration area,” Sheley said.

The second room, for the younger generation ranging from toddlers through elementary school, is intended for children and their caregivers “to socialize, read and learn together.”

Elsewhere in the library, the circulation desk will be smaller than it previously was, and windows will be installed in the Sydney Wright Room. The meeting hall will have new carpeting and a new coat of paint. Sheley said the location for the Library of Things, which is “a collection of items ranging from craft supplies to yard games,” has yet to be determined. It most likely will be close to the circulation desk, however, she said.

Because construction is ongoing, Sheley said there is not a date set for the grand opening. Public meetings and clubs will resume immediately once the library relocates back into the 52-year-old building.

“The reopening of the library will be such a happy day for all of the staff,” she said. “We have missed the sights and sounds of a busy library located in the heart of Jamestown.”