Farmington library will close 6 to 8 months for renovationThe Dakota County Library in Farmington will close its doors in September, but only for a few months. When those doors reopen, the library will be bigger and brighter, and ready for the future.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The Dakota County Library in Farmington will close its doors in September, but only for a few months. When those doors reopen, the library will be bigger and brighter, and ready for the future.
A renovation project for the library is scheduled to begin in September, probably a week or two after the next school year starts. It could take six to eight months for the renovation, but a satellite library site is being considered for those months.
According to head librarian Mary Scheide, a needs assessment for Farmington’s library was completed last year. From that study, it was determined that the current facility could be expanded to offer additional space and services.
For one thing, the library will be 3,500 square feet larger when the renovation is complete. The building itself will not be expanded, but there is additional space in the structure that had been leased to the IDEA school. That lease has been terminated.
The additional space gives room for desired amenities, like separate study rooms, a small meeting room and more computers for public use.
“We are looking at hopefully expanding the number of computers, but also to really plan for the fact that more and more people are coming in with their own devices to use our wireless service and be in a quiet space, have good places to hook up, and a quiet area to study or do their work,” Scheide said.
Several of the Dakota County libraries have been remodeled over the past few years, said Tom Burrows, principal project manager for Dakota County. In addition to Farmington, the library in Inver Grove Heights is also scheduled for work this year.
The expansion of the computer and technology offerings is common in many of these renovations, Burrows said.
“The technology has changed so we need to provide more space for computers,” Burrows said. “When we did the Burnhaven Library a little over a year ago, we increased the computer space four to five times in that building. It was substantial. People were standing in line to use the computers we had, so technology is a big thing.”
Design for the library renovation will begin in February, according to Burrows. It usually takes three to four weeks to develop plans, he said. Once the plans are completed, the documents have to be reviewed and approved by the Dakota County Library Board, then forwarded to the Dakota County Board of Commissioners for final approval. That means the plans should be completed sometime between late March and early April.
Burrows expects the county to take construction bids for the project in July or early August, with the goal of starting after the school year starts.
“Summer tends to be the busiest time of the year for us,” Scheide said. “We will have a full slate of youth and adult programming, so it will be the end of the summer before we look at closing.”
When libraries are renovated, the county typically tries to open a temporary location so users can still get access to some of the services offered by the library. When the Wescott Library in Eagan was renovated, it was temporarily relocated to the nearby civic center. However, space is not always available, so in some instances the library is simply closed for the duration of the renovation. The plan for Farmington is to find a location near the existing building.
“The county does try to find some opportunity for a satellite space to keep some albeit scaled back library service going through the remodeling. Even though the building will be closed, we’ll hopefully have a space available,” Scheide said.
Scheide doesn’t know what the library will look like when it reopens in the winter or early spring of 2014, but she knows there will still be plenty of books and periodicals available for readers of every age. Even though there are plans to increase the amount of technology, the Farmington library will maintain its collection, she said.
“We are constantly maintaining the collection to keep it fresh and make it what people want. When we think of the proportion of space for a physical collection versus any other dedicated space in the library, they want a quiet place to study, a place to read, a place to interact with other people,” she said. “We need to consider all of that.”