Some additional renovations are being planned at the Rochester Hills Public Library, including a reconfiguration of its drive-up drop-off for borrowed materials, according to library officials.
At its October board meeting, the library's Board of Trustees decided to continue with improvements to the library building. Earlier this year, new flooring was installed and reupholstering of furniture in the public areas of the building as part of those improvements is almost complete. The next project will be the installation of terrazzo on the library’s main staircase.
“We’ve had carpet on the stairs for the past 22 years and have had to replace it every five years or so,” Library Director Christine Lind Hage said. “With about 2,200 people per day visiting the library and using the stairs, the carpet gets dirty and wears out quickly.”
After considering a variety of options including new carpet, various tile products and terrazzo, the board decided to go with the terrazzo because of its durability, easy maintenance and cost-effectiveness.
Workers will be in the library in the next few weeks to create templates of the treads and risers on the staircase. These will be pre-fabricated offsite and installed in February when the landings are constructed onsite. The stairs will be inaccessible for about two weeks in February while the onsite work is done. The library’s elevator will be the only way to access the second floor during that construction period.
A second, larger construction project is planned for next summer.
“Since the library opened in 1992 using the library’s drive-up book return and pick-up window is difficult for library users,” Hage said. “In the process of completing four 90-degree turns, drivers drove over curbs and grass and hit the building repeatedly. We found broken headlights, side-view mirrors and automotive trim pieces on the driveway all the time.”
According to Hage, a rubber bumper was installed in 1993 to help protect cars when they hit the building. Even with the rubber bumper and new curbing, drivers continue to struggle with the turns, so the problem is finally going to be remedied.
The building will be expanded by 3,690 square feet to the south so that drivers will easily be able to return and pick up books from their cars. In addition to correcting the drive-up return issue, the new space will allow the library to install an automated materials handling system that will check in books as soon as they are returned and sort them by material type to speed up the shelving process once materials are checked in.
“On good days we are able to get returned library materials back on the shelf within 48 hours,” said Ginger Olson, who is the head of the circulation department. “After a three-day weekend it can take four or more days to get returned materials back on the shelf."
The new system will remedy that problem.
Also as part of the expansion project the library’s south parking lot will be resurfaced. According to Hage, the parking lot foundation has shifted over 22 years and needs to be re-compacted and re-surfaced. The parking lot won't be rearranged or enlarged, just restored. Also as part of that project a mechanical treatment chamber will be installed to remove suspended solids and oils from the parking lot storm water.
“In a sense the mechanical treatment center works like a septic tank for stormwater treatment before the water goes into the Paint Creek,” Hage said. “We are working with the Clinton River Watershed Council and the City of Rochester to see if any grant funds are available to help with the project.” The Paint Creek is one of the premier trout fishing streams in the state.
Design work on the parking lot and building expansion will take place this fall. Bids on the construction project will be accepted early in 2014 with construction anticipated to start early in the spring. The entire project should be completed by the end of 2014. One aspect that might prove a hindrance to visitors is the loss of the drive-up book return and pick-up window. Hage said temporary outdoor book returns will be set up by the library’s west entrance during the construction. The library will remain open throughout the entire construction period.