Director Dean Gualco envisions the Lodi Public Library as a place where community members of all ages come together to learn new skills, explore the library’s collection, surf the Internet and discuss and debate the issues of the day.
That’s the vision driving the $400,000 library renovation scheduled to begin in January.
“We’ve really tried to change the perception of the library,” said Gualco, who took over the library director’s position in January. “We’ve all been on this trek of reinventing the library, and creating a library that is more conducive to the future.”
In addition to replacing paint and carpeting — much of which has been unchanged since the 1970s — the library will see an updated and expanded Computer Learning Center, six new meeting rooms and three open-space lounges, referred to as “library living rooms,” where people can sit and talk.
The project is being funded by the Lodi Library Foundation, the Library Board of Trustees, Friends of the Lodi Public Library and the city’s Library Fund.
Gualco said the original plans for the library redesign carried a $1 million price tag, but they were able to make some changes to reduce costs. Instead of getting new chairs, existing chairs will be reupholstered. The original plans also included moving the shelves that hold the books, at a huge cost. Gualco said they decided to leave the shelves where they are.
Additional remodeling will be done by the Lowe’s stores in Lodi and Stockton, as part of the home improvement chain’s “Heroes Program” and at no cost to the library.
Lowe’s will be retrofitting existing tables in the library so that people can plug their computers into them, and renovating the Bud Sullivan Community Room with new paint, window blinds, a ceiling-mounted projector and viewing screen.
The home improvement store will also be landscaping the front of the library on West Locust Street.
Ryan Herrick, human resources manager for Lowe’s Lodi store, said he’s excited about the renovations the company will be providing for the library.
“We’re showing the community that Lowe’s is happy we’re here in Lodi,” Herrick said.
Friends of the Lodi Library member Anita McKeever the front of the library really needs to be spruced up.
“I don’t think it looks inviting at all coming in,” McKeever said. “We’ve got dead trees; we’ve got garbage spilling out all over. I’m very happy to see something being done there.”
Bev Cornelius, McKeever’s sister and fellow member of Friends of the Lodi Library, said the new meeting rooms will open up space for tutoring. She said she tutors as part of the library’s adult literacy program and often can’t find a quiet, secluded place to work with people in the program.
The library will remain open during the remodel, which is expected to take three months, Gualco said.
The Lodi City Council is expected to ask for contractors to submit bids for the work in November and select a company in December, with work scheduled to begin Jan. 6, Gualco said.
“All we want to do is make a difference in people’s lives,” Gualco said. “We want to make a better place for people in Lodi. It’s pretty simple.”
Contact reporter Todd Allen Wilson at email@example.com.