Port Townsend Library makes plans for return to Carnegie building with Aug. 3 ‘light opening’
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Port Townsend Library Technical Services Director Keith Darrock, left, studies renovation plans along with library board member Ian Keith, center, and Port Townsend Public Works Director Ken Clow. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After more than two years in a temporary space that was projected to be in use for just a few months, the Port Townsend Library has a firm date for moving back into its 100-year-old Carnegie location.

The temporary location at Mountain View Commons, 1919 Blaine St., will close Monday, July 14, and the library will reopen at the Carnegie building, 1220 Lawrence St., on Sunday, Aug. 3.

At that time, there will be a “light opening” from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. that will include food, music and sales of a new history of the library written by local author Chris Clow.

The library moved out of the Carnegie and into Mountain View in March 2012 for renovation.

“The public will be surprised” when they see the renovated space, said Keith Darrock, the library’s technical services director who is supervising the renovation.

“We have managed to do a lot with a limited amount of space and resources.”

Darrock said the entire renovation is being completed for less than $150,000 because of volunteer labor and discounts.

“[Library Board member] Ian Keith has donated his carpentry skills, and that has saved us a lot of money,” Darrock said.

“I am serving as the project manager so we didn’t have to hire a general contractor.”

Currently, the area is being painted, with carpet scheduled for installation next week.

The reconfiguration plans included a new children’s room in the space once occupied by fiction, the general collection in the former children’s space and a new “young adult” room with computers and special displays.

“This will be great because we never had a dedicated teen space,” Darrock said.

The circulation area will be shortened and the director’s office will be available as a “quiet space” that can be reserved for meetings, he said.

One overdue improvement will be the installation of automatic checkout machines, now a standard feature in libraries.

Darrock said the upstairs Carnegie space will more resemble its original use: that of a large, open public reading room.

It will contain special displays, periodicals and references, with the biggest difference the installation of lower shelves that will allow a clear window view in the entire room, Darrock said.

There will be fewer books in the Carnegie portion than before the renovation due to newly imposed weight limits. When the seismic retrofit was conducted, engineers determined the area could not safely bear the previous load.

However, with increased shelf area downstairs, the library will house the same amount of books as before, Darrock said.

“It’s very exciting to finally be at this point,” interim director Bev Shelton said.

“The public will be very excited about what they see when we open, and they’ll be happy to be back at the Carnegie.”

The move-in is the end of a long process that was intended to rehabilitate and expand the Carnegie, which at one point included plans for a new two-story annex to replace the addition that was built in 1990.

Once vacant, it was determined that the Carnegie also needed a seismic retrofit.

After this was completed, the library sought to finance a scaled-down renovation with a $3 million general obligation bond, which voters defeated in August 2013.

During this time, Library Director Theresa Percy retired after a complaint from Darrock that she had ordered him to help in the bond campaign.

Percy was replaced by Shelton.

The selection of a new director has also taken longer than expected.

Shelton said Wednesday the search will begin in September, with hopes that the new director will be in place by January.

Darrock said he will “probably” apply for the top position when the application process opens.

Once the move is complete, the building’s exterior will be addressed.

“The annex will need a new roof and a paint job all around,” Darrock said.

“There will be a lot of work needed to keep this building going.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 18. 2014 6:38PM
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