People who attend the open house and re-dedication of the Wauseon Public Library on Saturday will experience a brighter, roomier, modernized facility.
Library staff moved back into the location at 117 E. Elm St. on April 17, and opened the doors on Monday. Director Maricela DeLeon said it took a full week to empty the temporary facilities at 1052 N. Shoop Ave., where the library relocated last August. The staff also had to move items held in a storage unit on County Road D.
Other than correcting some minor issues involving the catalogue system, a stairway, and couple of doors, “for the most part, we should be open to the public,” DeLeon said.
The official open house will feature a re-dedication, tours, and refreshments from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
DeLeon said visitors will notice some obvious changes. The front entrance is now entirely glass-enclosed, and the main floor is brighter and has a more open floor plan. A stained-glass window that previously lurked on a back wall is now highlighted across from the more open circulation desk.
Modifications also include a new elevator with both front and rear entrances, added windows, handicap-accessible restrooms, a different entrance to the children’s section on the basement floor, and no more public access from the rear of the building. A large storage area was added to the third floor to substitute for closet space lost during the renovation.
“It’s going to be a big change for some people,” DeLeon said.
A major difference that may upset patrons is the loss of the main floor reading room, now converted to office space. The library has accommodated by creating a reading area with chairs and magazines.
“I think we have a few regulars that are not going to be happy with it. It’s not as quiet an area as it was before,” DeLeon said.
However, the area was set up simply to establish a new reading nook, and may evolve, she said. “I would look for it to change. It will take some time. We may look for somewhere to create an area.”
Other areas remain the same. Other than a new entrance and rearranged shelving, the children’s section underwent very little transformation, and the library’s main floor public computer bank stayed in place.
“We’re still offering all the services, hopefully improved, but none of our services will be changing,” DeLeon said. “We’ll still go above and beyond what we can do to help them.”
The over $1 million renovation was paid for through library funding and a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant received through the federal Targets of Opportunity Program. Work included repairing and waterproofing the building’s deteriorating foundation, exterior brick work and painting, and updating HVAC systems and carpeting.
Teen Librarian Dan Baldwin has been a staff member for 12 years. He’s impressed with the renovation, especially the brighter interior. “We’re happy with it,” he said.
Connie Fry, a nine-year employee, said patrons will like what they see. “We have a remodeled old building but we still have the same smiling people,” she said.
Board of Trustees President Liz Avery said she’s thrilled with the lighter, brighter, more accessible facilities. “The improvements should allow the library to function for the next 100 years on the Elm Street site,” she said.
Cathy DeHass of Wauseon checked out the new look Monday morning. “I love it, ” she said. “I like how light and bright it is. I like the set-up.”
She praised the library staff’s dedication and hard work getting the facility up and running, adding, “They need high-fives, and lots of good praise.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.