Farmington library renovation nearly done
When the Dakota County Library in Farmington reopens in a few weeks, visitors may be hard pressed to say what they like best about the new interior. Some may like the larger space. Some may like the individual study rooms.
And the kids? Well, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll like the silos in the new kids’ section.
The majority of the interior renovation is now complete. Library staff has been gradually stocking shelves with books, audio books and DVDs. But the date for an official opening is still a few weeks away.
The project was bid in two separate pieces — the interior, and the exterior. The interior portion of the project is mostly complete, but it will be a couple of weeks yet before the exterior of the building will be complete, according to Dakota County Capital Planning and Project Management senior project manager Joe Lexa.Entering the library, patrons will be struck by how much larger the facility is after the renovation. That is because the library itself will be 3,500 square feet larger. In the past, the west end of the building was separated off and used as a site for Intermediate School District 917 classes. As part of the renovation, the dividing wall was removed, opening that space — and the two restrooms already in place — to library use.Everything in the building was designed to create a feeling of openness and easy access, Lexa said. The ceiling tiles were removed and the ceiling elements painted. Several lower sub-ceilings are hung from the rafters, each over different sections of the library. For instance, one hangs over the children’s section, another is mounted above the teen’s section.In blues, aquas, greens and grays, the colors are primarily cool in feel, but also lend themselves to the ample natural light that comes from the new and existing windows.“I love all of the windows,” branch manager Barbara Svoboda said. “Those are good things.”The layout of the library has changed, and sections have been enlarged. The teen section, which had been in a corner, has now been moved to the front. It will have its own furniture, with tables and chairs, as well as a separate group study room. The teen section nearly doubled in size, from 424 square feet, to 802 square feet.The children’s section is next to the teen section, though the two are separate spaces. Where the teen section has cool colors, the children’s section utilizes oranges and golds. Kids can also read their books in small, round spaces designed to emulate silos and reflect Farmington’s heritage. A “corn crib” was also constructed in the children’s section, as a place where groups can gather for storytime. The size of the children’s area was increased from 810 square feet to 1,263 square feet, according to Lexa.The computer tech area has been moved to the south side of the building, and is set off in its own space. The library will offer 12 computers for public use, but there will also be several couches and chairs in the area — with wifi available — so visitors can bring in their own wireless devices to use.Providing wireless options was a priority for the library’s renovation.“There’s lots of additional power receptacles for people to come and plug in their electronic devices,” Lexa said. “We have lots of power in here. Lots of power.”Four new study rooms have also been added. Each room will have a table and chair, and a door to close out unwanted noise.While the book inventory of Farmington’s library is not increasing significantly, the way the book shelves are placed will make it much easier for visitors to find the books they are looking for. The shelves are strategically lined up so bright fluorescent lights hang directly over the carpeted sections of the rows — not over the shelves — to provide ample lighting for browsers to read by.Not everything in the library will be brand new, though. In order to keep costs down, the book shelves were not replaced, and the community room space has stayed much the same. However, the community room did get new carpeting and a projector unit was installed in the ceiling.“It’s been a lot of fun watching it all come together,” Svoboda said. “We’re all getting anxious to get back home.”The entire project should be completed for less than $2,415,000, Lexa said. The interior renovation budget is $2,035,000 with the exterior budget set at $380,000. Parkos Construction Company of West St. Paul is handing the renovation.Svoboda said the library should reopen in late August or early September. A firm date will be announced later this month.