By Jean Cole
Users of Athens-Limestone Public Library should have a larger, more centrally located library by April or May of 2014.
The effort to convert the old Kroger building on Jefferson Street in Athens to a new city-county library is already underway in that a group of volunteers has gutted the inside so renovations can begin. Exterior work should begin April 1.
The new library is being created due to lack of space in the current library at 405 E. South St.
Library Director Paula Laurita said some of the features of the new library would be:
• Dedicated children’s area with story time area;
• Local history room;
• Study rooms;
• Meeting rooms;
• More public computers;
• Community technology center for classes and training;
• Quiet reading area.
Renovations will be done in two phases.
The first phase will be the renovation of the exterior of the building. The bidding process has begun in that the project is being advertised for a month. A contractor will be chosen and work should begin April 1 when the weather is good.
“The exterior will be similar but not exactly to the plans that have been looked at for a long time,” Laurita said. “We will make it esthetically pleasing. It is not going to look like a Kroger (grocery story). There will be lattice work and kind of an arbor look across the exterior.”
The second phase will be the renovation of the interior.
Laurita said the project would be esthetically pleasing and mindful of the budget.
As much of the money as possible will be spent on the interior.
Although much of the money for the project has already been raised. The Library Foundation Board is making a final push for the last $500,000 needed. Some of that will be spent on furniture and fixtures.
Limestone Building Group will oversee the renovation and CMH Architects has designed the plans.