When the Lodi Public Library closes for renovations on Dec. 1, seventhgrader Rae'Moni Harper hopes its temporary home will be close by so she can still come study with her sister every day after school.
On Wednesday afternoon, Harper talked with her sister, Elliza North-Fauli, and reviewed her calendar at a table in the library.
"I don't like staying at the afterschool program because I don't get my homework done," she said.
Library staff will move some of the collection to a temporary building during the four-month period the renovations will take place, said Library Services Director Nancy Martinez. While the library building on 201 W. Locust St. will be closed, the librarians will still have access to the full collection. The building on Pine Street used to house the city's Finance Department. It also is one of the Downtown buildings that had PCE/TCE chemical contamination a few years ago.
As the date for the library to close approaches, Martinez said that it is important to sign a contract as soon as possible.
"The longer we wait, the more likely we will have to delay the relocation, but we cannot delay the closure," she said.
The library is considering a site at 212 W. Pine St., across from City Hall, although a contract has not been finalized, Martinez said.
Environmental engineering firm Treadwell and Rollo recently tested the building to see if it would be safe for the public, said city spokesman Jeff Hood. The experts found that while there are some remnants of PCE/TCE, the health risk to the public would be insignificant. The testers' report said that a person could breathe the air for more than 25 years and still be healthy, according to Hood.
The PCE/TCE levels have decreased because a ventilation system was installed in the building in 2002, and the city's cleanup efforts have also removed thousands of pounds of the contaminant from near that location, Hood said.
The Finance Department used that building until 2004, when it moved partially because of health concerns. Since then, the building has not had a business license issued to it, so there has been no tenant that was open to the public, Hood said.
Even though the building is associated with PCE/TCE, supervising librarian Andrea Woodruff said she is not worried about the public thinking twice about coming to the library.
On Wednesday, Martinez did a walk-through of the Pine Street building with three moving companies to see how much they would charge to move part of the library's collection. She said the move will probably cost several thousand dollars, and that the movers should return bids in two weeks.
The library plans to move no more than 10,000 books to the temporary location, with the rest remaining in the library during renovations. Librarians will still have access to the whole collection if patrons have specific requests.
"We are looking into getting hard hats for the librarians," Martinez said.
Library staff considered three other locations, but there have been problems with each one, Martinez and Woodruff said.
They considered a building near Lakewood Drugs and Gifts, but it would be too expensive to move the materials that far away, Martinez said. Staffers discussed a site on School Street, but it was too small and also on the second floor, which is a problem since the books are so heavy, Woodruff said.
"It's like having a skinny elephant," she said.
Martinez said she also looked into using the Grape Festival Grounds, but it was not wired for the library's computers, and there were events scheduled when the library would be located there.
Wayne Stenberg sat in the library on Wednesday afternoon surrounded by magazines and newspapers spread in front of him. The retiree likes to check stocks in national publications as well as use the computers for his fantasy football team.
"Any place in Lodi would be fine," he said. "There are always a lot of people in here."