Greenwood Public Library undergoes $3.9M renovation

Construction is common in Greenwood as the city continues to grow and develop, and the Greenwood Public Library has its own multi-million-dollar project in the works.

The library is spending $3.9 million on a major remodel, one that is several years in the making. The remodel, by Columbus-based Driftwood Builders, began in April, and by the time it is completed next spring, both the exterior and some of the interior will look different.

The 52,000-square-foot library is actually a combination of four buildings built between 1963 and 2001, according to library documents. The remodel will provide the community with both a state-of-the-art facility and state-of-the-art services.

Exterior work to match city’s aesthetic

The entire exterior will be designed to complement downtown Greenwood’s new aesthetic, said Emily Ellis, the library’s assistant director.

The new aesthetic includes a revamped Old City Park to the library’s north, and an $83 million redevelopment of the former Greenwood Middle School property to the library’s south. The fieldhouse is being revamped to include a variety of sports. Townhomes, condos, apartments, commercial spaces for restaurants and retail, and a parking garage will also be added to the property.

“We’ve got the brand new park right across the new parking lot. They’re working on the renovations to the old middle school fieldhouse. We have so much going on right around us that we just wanted to make sure that we were also nice [and] welcoming,” Ellis said.

The library’s lighting fixtures, railings, stonework and signage will be updated. Some of the signage still has the library’s previous logo, she said.

The library’s butterfly garden will be made more accessible, and new patio tables, seating and lighting will be added, according to library documents. The storage barn outside the library will also be updated.

Interior plans include new spaces

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of workers went from working in offices to working from home. Now, with remote work more widely accepted, the library is adapting to that new reality with a new work area.

The library’s Workzone will include spacious tables, laptop plugins and large monitors, according to library documents. Patrons will also be able to check out Bluetooth keyboards and mice.

The Workzone is not the only new addition. The library will also increase its number of study rooms to 11 from seven. And the library’s community rooms will be updated with new flooring, seating and whiteboard dividing walls, library documents show.

Additionally, a supervised family visit room is being added to the library’s second floor after library staff noticed a need in the community, Ellis said.

“This is a common place where people come for supervised visits, and we wanted to give them a safe, enclosed space where they could just be together as a family,” she said.

The library’s maker space, the Studio, which launched in 2018, will be expanded as part of the renovations, according to library documents.

A new 3D printer will also be installed. The printer, called a GlowForge, can engrave many surfaces, allowing people to create signs, decor or other items. It will also teach people design elements. The printer will be vented outside to avoid fumes in the building, said Cheryl Dobbs, library director.

Large screens will be installed in several of the library’s meeting rooms, and a new professional board room, which businesses can reserve for special meetings, according to library documents.

Book shelves, furniture and offices will also be updated, and a new hospitality area will be added to the lobby, to include vending machines, a microwave and tables.

Remodel paid for by bond

No taxes were raised to pay for the library’s remodel. The library paid off an existing bond in 2020, and issued a new bond in April with the Greenwood City Council’s approval.

“Because we were able to get this bond, we decided to move forward with these renovations,” Ellis said.

The new bond is for $3.9 million, $3.2 million of which is for the construction. The rest is for furniture and other projects, Dobbs said.

About $685,000 of the bond is a placeholder for projects that have not completed the design phase yet. The additional funds are a cushion for any future or contingency fees as the library enters the second half of the renovation, she said.

The library expects the project will cost slightly more than the bond amount. However, the library has money in its rainy day fund to cover any additional costs, Dobbs said.

The library is also selling about 50 pieces of excess furniture as part of the renovation, the proceeds of which will go to the Friends of Greenwood Public Library nonprofit to benefit programs.

So far, about $400 has been given to Friends. The furniture went to the Early Learning Center in Greenwood, and to a few libraries in need of furniture, Dobbs said.

Future sales are possible, but will depend on the construction timeline and availability of new furniture, she said.

Patrons will be minimally impacted

Patrons aren’t being impacted, and at least one said they hadn’t noticed the construction at all.

“I have not really noticed a lot from the renovations,” said Jessica Chastain, a Greenwood resident and frequent library patron. “I think it’s a wonderful library.”

The library’s goal is for there to be as little impact as possible on patrons, Ellis said.

A few of the study rooms are closed due to the construction, but others are available, she said.

The biggest impact right now is the temporary closure of the library’s community room spaces, which are used for the library’s programming. With the rooms closed, the library is not able to use them as they normally would, Ellis said.

“We’re having to use those for storage. I’m just hoping after summer time we will be able to open that up to patrons,” she said.

In the future, there may be days when accessing the library’s collection may be tricky as new shelves are installed, but it will not be for an extended period of time, Ellis said.

As with other projects this year, renovations are being impacted by supply shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic. The goal is still for all renovations to be completed by next spring.