Library open house to unveil new addition

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 3, 2015

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ROCHESTER — After more than 10 months of construction, crews will wrap up working on the Rochester Hills Public Library’s 6,600-square-foot addition this week.

Library Director Christine Lind Hage said the library broke ground on the $1.6 million project in August 2014 and completed construction of the addition and drive-up window in May.

She admitted that the project, which had to be delayed for several weeks due to frigid temperatures this winter, has been “challenging.”

“I’ve done buildings before, but I have never been in a building while putting an addition on the building. The staff really put up with a lot. Some days, it was really noisy, and we had a couple pieces of steel come through the ceiling. Nobody was hurt because it was sectioned off, but you don’t expect that,” she said. “Then, we delayed putting the brick on because of the extreme cold that we had this winter — I just couldn’t see heating outside when it is nine below and the temperature had to be up 20-30 degrees — so we didn’t really stick to our schedule, but it wasn’t crucial that we were on schedule,” Hage said.

Claire Poynter, head of the library’s youth services department, said she is proud to work with such a flexible staff.

“We had to roll with a lot of stuff, and we’ve made it and can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she added.

The drive-up window will allow patrons to drive up next to the building instead of making four 90-degree turns to access the book return. The additional space inside the first floor allowed the installation of the automated materials handling system, which automatically sorts and checks in library materials as they are returned. The second-floor addition will be used for online and library book sales organized by the Friends of the Rochester Hills Public Library beginning this September.

Over the past couple weeks, the library’s south parking lot was resurfaced, and Hage said she anticipates reopening the full lot by Friday, June 5. Once the library’s lot is complete, she said the drive-up window and book return will be open for service, and the temporary outdoor book returns will be removed.

“As soon as the parking lot is paved ... (the drive-up window) will be available to the public,” Hage said.

The library will host an open house to unveil the new addition and redesigned drive-up return and pickup window from 2-4 p.m. June 7. The event, which is free and open to the public, will also give patrons a look at the new automated materials handling system.

“We want everyone to come and see it. We want everyone to visit the library,” Hage said.

Poynter said the open house is a really great chance for the public to see what the library staff does behind the scenes.

“There’s a lot that goes on at the library that the public doesn’t see on a regular basis. To see all of the goings-on in the back is a rare opportunity that is really interesting,” she said.

The majority of the $1.6 million project will be paid for from the library’s fund balance, leaving around $1 million still in the fund balance. Hage said the Friends of the Library contributed about $74,000 to finish off the second-floor space, which will be used for the book sales.

The architectural firm TMP Associates Inc., of Bloomfield Hills, designed the project, which was constructed by Frank Rewold & Son, of Rochester. Both of the firms worked on the original building in 1992.

Hage said additional library improvements scheduled for completion this summer include the construction of four glass, group study rooms on the west end of the second floor and updating its fire alarm system, which is a separate project and is expected to cost $50,000.

“It will probably be July or August before we get to that,” Hage said.

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