Garner Cleveland Record

Renovated library reopens this month in Garner

Elaine Brown (left) and Rebecca Collins stock shelves with magazines Wednesday prior to the grand opening on May 21.
Elaine Brown (left) and Rebecca Collins stock shelves with magazines Wednesday prior to the grand opening on May 21.

The Southeast Regional library will look a little brighter when it reopens later this month.

For the past seven months, the library has undergone renovations to its facility, inside and out. The walls are painted new bright colors, new furniture fills the rooms, extra space was added for new programming, new lighting and new carpet were added and the staff received offices, among other improvements.

The library will also have USB ports to charge phones, more outlets and new computers, making it more technologically advanced and user-friendly.

“We have created more spaces for laptop use in addition to the new PCs,” Nichole Lambert, the Southeast Regional library manager, said. “So it’s a lot easier to find outlets because that was a big issue here. Of course it was wired for the needs back in the ’80s. So you didn’t really know at the time that people were going to have personal computers and they were going to need to plug them in somewhere.”

Some outlets are built into the furniture.

Prior to the renovation, people walked around the building looking for an outlet to plug their laptops in, she said. And some had cables running across the floor, which created a tripping hazard.

On Wednesday, the staff were stocking shelves with books, and setting up for its grand opening on May 21.

“We’re very excited, primarily because we want to have the regional library open and available to the community, and because this library was the library that needed to be renovated more than anything,” Deputy Library Director Ann Burlingame said. “It’s much more appropriate for our type of programming now. The shelving before was 30 years old. It was hideous.”

Lambert, the library manager, said the community has been supportive of the renovations. She said prior to relocating to temporary space, someone brought a cake to tell the the staff thank you.

“I think (the community) will love it,” Lambert said.

The grand opening celebration celebration will feature story time at 10:30 a.m. Teens are invited to learn about the Teen Leadership Corp program at 10 a.m.

Needing renovations

The 22,000 square-foot library located at 908 Seventh Ave., was built in 1988 and was in need of upgrades. The renovations were approved in a 2007 bond, along with five other facilities.

“When you have a 30-year-old building, it’s not ready for the techology of today,” Lambert said.

But the renovation plans were halted during the economic recession.

After the police department moved its headquarters to a new facility, library services were moved to the old police station across the parking lot in a limited capacity. Since the library moved into the temporary space, it has been without adult and school-aged children programming.

Some staff members were sent out to other sites to work, but they will be returning soon.

The temporary site has been closed since last week.

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander1