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Lodi Public Library moves ahead with renovations — and at a lower cost

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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 12:00 am

One year from now, the Lodi community will be enjoying new meeting spaces, more room to spread out with laptops and tablets, and a coat of fresh paint at the Lodi Public Library on Locust Street.

"The process of planning this has turned out to be a dream. I think we will end up with a library the citizens of Lodi can be proud of," said library director Dean Gualco.

On Wednesday night, the Lodi City Council picked an architect to plan Phase 3 of the library renovation project.

WMB Architects of Stockton will draw up the designs for $35,000. The firm also designed the second phase.

Phase 2 was completed in 2008, improving the children's area, entrance, restrooms and reception area, as well as finishing about half of the new paint and carpeting.

Now, says Gualco, it's time to finish the job.

This final phase has several parts to it. One is to complete the painting and carpeting.

Workers will install more electrical outlets throughout the building and run cables to the study tables so that users can charge their electronic devices while working in the library.

Six new closed-door meeting rooms are on the docket. Four will have room for about six people. One is large enough for about 10 to 14 people, and a larger room will accommodate groups of 25.

There's no need to make the building bigger to fit these additions.

Library staff will take out the magazine stands on the west side of the building and install the new rooms there. The magazines will go on a rack on the wall instead.

"It's much cheaper, and it will present itself better," said Gualco.

The plan also calls for three lounge areas with cafe style seating to encourage conversation. But don't bring a snack — there's still no food or drink permitted.

"Our hope is that more groups are going to become aware they can have meetings at the library, and we can draw in people who would not normally visit," said Gualco.

Ideally, the library won't have to close at all for this construction work. During Phase 2, staff had to move the entire library to Pine Street, an expensive and stressful process.

Gualco plans to block off a few areas, and only close for a day or two at a time if needed during electrical work.

Overall, the renovation was initially going to cost nearly $1 million.

But the library formed a renovation committee, said Gualco, and looked for ways to cut costs.

Moving the heavy shelves around to paint and carpet could cost $200,000 and cause the library to close up for days on end. Instead, crews will work around the bookshelves to finish the renovations.

Costs for new furniture could run up to $204,000. Instead, the 30-year-old furniture will be recovered and re-purposed. The library will buy about $40,000 in new furniture for the meeting rooms.

These changes cut the bill down to about $500,000.

That money comes from three sources: the Lodi Public Library Board of Trustees, the Friends of the Library Foundation and the library's general fund.

There were no additional dollars from the city to fund the renovations.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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