August 25, 2010

Library working to ease crunch during construction

The day after the Racine Public Library announced the draconian closure of its adult department book stacks for three months -- to facilitate the ongoing renovation, recarpeting and addition of more floor space on the second floor (including a Racine history room and three small study rooms) -- we had lunch with city library director Jessica MacPhail.

She assured us that books will still be available during the closure period -- both when ordered in advance and even on-demand, thanks to "runners" who will be able to go through the stacks -- wherever they've been moved during the recarpeting and asbestos removal process -- and hopefully present the desired material at the main floor checkout desk within about five minutes. (Some books may be temporarily unavailable when their shelves are inaccessible.)

She also responded to a suggestion made in our comments that patrons be allowed to take out additional books in these final days before the construction begins on Sept. 2. MacPhail said there is no limit to the number of books patrons may check out -- subject, of course, to renewal limits when other patrons want the same material, and fines when books are overdue.

Book clubs will continue to meet, and new magazines and newspapers will continue to be available -- albeit in a different location -- during the construction period. The work is taking longer than originally expected because of the discovery of asbestos under the old carpeting, and structural limits on where bookshelves can be located, due to their weight.

MacPhail responded to our questions with the message below:

The Racine Public Library is excited about being able to offer a Racine History Room, three individual study rooms, and four “neighborhood” collections (Travel, Spanish/EspaƱol, Computers, and Holidays) after the second floor renovation and carpet replacement project is completed.

The project originally involved moving the shelves to remove the existing carpet and install new carpet tiles.  Then asbestos was discovered underneath the carpeting on the original, west side of the second floor.  Abatement of the asbestos adds a step to the process.   The structural engineer’s report didn’t have sufficient information, so the original structural engineer was contacted to see if the floor could support doubling the weight of the shelves as they are moved around the building.  The report came back that the area is unable to handle the increased load and, so, an alternative shelf-moving plan had to be established. This adds more time to the project.  The shelves now have to be moved, section by section, to an area that can support them; the carpet is then removed, asbestos is abated, new carpet is installed, and shelves are put back.   The second floor will be inaccessible to the public during this portion of the project.

While the second floor is unavailable, patrons will have access to new books, newspapers, DVDs, and magazines in the Emily Lee Room located on the first floor.  In the first-floor Atrium area, a limited number of internet terminals will be available for one-hour use by patrons. A microfilm reader/printer will also be available in this location.  There will be a “Just Returned” section in the lobby.  Wi-fi access will be available throughout the first floor, in the Youth Services area, the Atrium, and the Emily Lee Room.  Reference librarians will be on duty in Youth Services and in the Atrium.  A few study tables will be available in the Youth Services Department; however, after 2 p.m.  children will have priority.

If you’re looking for specific items, you may call the reference desk (262.636.9217) or place a hold via the online catalog.  You may also visit in person, and the staff will make every effort to find the materials you require. Library services are also available at the Mobile Library, which will continue service as usual.  All stops are listed on the library’s website.

If you prefer browsing, you are encouraged to visit the main library before Aug. 31.  There is a limit of 10 items for DVDs, CDs, and CDroms, but no limit to the number of books that can be checked out.  Overdue fines are $.25 per day, to a maximum of $5 per item.

There is also a collection of thousands of titles available to download, either to listen to on your iPod, MP3 Player or SmartPhone (audiobook) or read on your computer or SmartPhone (eBook).  On the library’s website, check out the “eBooks & eAudio” link .

Patrons looking for a quiet place to work and study may visit the libraries at Gateway Technical College, UW-Parkside, and Carthage College.

For more information, please contact Jessica MacPhail, Library Director:  262.636.9252, or by email.

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  1. Good response to a trying circumstance. The library actually is very good about meeting patrons's need.

  2. You can also get a library card from Kenosha. I have library cards for both libraries and know many people who use both libraries. So if you want to browse in a library a trip to Kenosha might meet your needs.

    Glad kids will have priority after 2pm.

  3. Must have an asbestos contractor with their head up their ass. Any decent asbestos abatement company should have come in on day one - taken a 3 inch carpeting sample - and looked to see if there was asbestos mastic underneath.


    But hey, it's the City of Racine. This is how we do things.

  4. Tim the Shrubber8/26/2010 9:02 AM

    "Any decent asbestos abatement company should have come in on day one..."

    Hmmmm...seems to me that they did not know there was going to be an asbestos don't usually hire an asbestos abatement company until you know there is a problem.

  5. Tim,
    The libaray already knew they had an asbestos problem, that's why they hired them in the first place. When the asbestos contractor put in the bid, they should have done an asbestos inspection, which would have routinely identified asbestos mastic under carpet. They screwed up, plain and simple.