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"Overdue" project means a "renewal" for downtown library

Published On: Oct 28 2013 05:07:10 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 28 2013 06:47:24 PM EDT

The work is so extensive, starting today- the library will be closed to patrons. .


Even with news coverage and a note on the door, Monday many came to Roanoke's Main Branch, only to be turned away.

The sign on door says closed for renovations.

But, before construction can begin, a big move is underway.

"Our goal is literally to pack up every book you can see off of the first floor and the mezzanine in the next 3-weeks," explains library director Sheila Umberger.

So, instead of stocking shelves, books are going in boxes.
And, newspapers, usually used to catch up on the day's headlines, are used for cushioning.

"It is a really involved project. The biggest thing is just to think about seeing the park from the front door, which we can't do that now, but when we reopen you can," says Umberger.

The nearly 3-million dollar project has been in the works for awhile.
When the library reopens in the late fall 2014, patrons will see lots of space and views of the new Elmwood Park.

"We're opening up the floor, we're adding additional floor space, we're replacing all the bannisters on the mezzanine and actually building two more mezzanines so instead of being just down one side, it'll be a U-shape," explains Umberger of the new details.

New spaces for preschoolers and kids will be constructed, along with new bathrooms and meeting rooms, plus $125-thousand worth of new books will be added to the collections.

While the main library will be closed for construction other branches will have extended hours.
Best sellers, computers, even furniture and employees will be shared with branches throughout the city.

"That's our key mission to provide materials and books for the community," explains Umberger.

While the main library will be closed until next fall, the Virginia Room used by many to research their family histories- will be open, but you'll have to schedule an appointment.


starting the week of December 2nd:

Jackson Park & Gainsboro - open on Wednesdays
Raleigh Court - adding evening hours on Thursdays
Law Branch in courthouse will be open all day on Wednesdays


Microfilm reader/printer is currently at Gainsboro library branch.

December 3rd - will reopen by appointment:

Tuesday thru Saturday, 10a.m. - 5p.m.

Click here for more details.