The Leesville Community Library will reopen Saturday, nearly seven months after an intentionally set fire damaged the building.
The library, off Leesville Road in northwest Raleigh, will host a daylong celebration starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The six-year-old library has “definitely been missed,” said library manager Ellen Guerci, and has enjoyed support from the community. A fourth-grade class at Leesville Road Elementary School made posters to show how much they love the library, and Leesville High School donated display boards for the artwork.
Students also cared for the library’s pet betta fish, Swimmy.
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Some residents sent emails asking how they could help with cleanup efforts, Guerci said.
“I’m just very impressed with the community and the dedication they’ve shown to the library,” she said.
Firefighters and police were alerted about a fire at the library in the early-morning hours of Feb. 17. Investigators determined the fire started after someone placed pyrotechnic smoke bombs into the library’s book depository.
Raleigh police arrested Parker Daniel Bruer, 18, and Daniel James Lunsford, 19, the same day. Both were charged with burning a public building, and Lunsford was also charged with damage to property, related to a second fire in an outdoor trash can on the grounds of Leesville Road Elementary School across the street.
Wake County spent about $650,000 on repairs and cleanup at the library, said Mark DuBois, physical plant director.
“It was an expensive event,” he said.
The back rooms near the book depository sustained the most damage. As part of the renovation, workers installed an $11,000 fire suppression system in that room, DuBois said. If the system detects extreme heat, he said, it releases a special liquid.
Workers also had to repair the library’s roof, circulation area and public restrooms. The interior of the building got new carpet and paint.
A restoration company cleaned the library’s 46,000 books, along with shelving units, furniture and the heating and cooling unit.
In 2014, more than 145,000 people visited the Leesville Community Library, Guerci said.
While the building was being renovated, the county urged patrons to visit the North Regional Library or the Duraleigh Road Community Library.
The role of libraries has changed as people get more information online and read books on e-readers.
But more than ever, Guerci said, libraries provide an important service – free Internet – so people can search the web, create professional resumes and fill out job applications.
“Our central mission has always been about reading and information,” Guerci said. “We still provide both of those things.”
Story times for children at the Leesville library typically attract about 40 kids, Guerci said. Twice-a-week programs for elementary school students can accommodate up to 30 children.
As part of the repairs, the library now features a larger area for children’s programming.
“All the programs we provide help to make this a community hub,” Guerci said.
If you go
The Leesville Community Library will host a grand re-opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. A family story time and puppet show will begin at 11 a.m., and Fish the Magish will perform at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and there will be giveaways for children.