An open book on the floor had the words "Once upon a time in Lodi … " written in big, black letters in the middle of its white pages.
The book will join classics like "Rumpelstiltskin" and "The Wizard of Oz" as new furniture art in the Lodi Public Library. The soft, couch-like benches and floor cushions will be used as seating in the revamped children's area, which will also feature fresh paint and new carpet.
The library will reopen Aug. 3 at its permanent location at 201 W. Locust St. after months of refurbishing. To give library staff enough time to move from its temporary location on Pine Street, the library will be closed from July 20 to Aug. 2. Posters hanging on the library door proclaim "We're going home."
The front entranceway and children's section have received fresh coats of paint and new carpet. The restrooms now comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and the children's restrooms can accommodate small children and their parents. The total project cost about $1.8 million to complete and was mostly funded through donations.
On Thursday, Library Services Director Nancy Martinez asked workers to move back the joint reference and circulation desk to provide more room in the lobby.
"I'm not very visual, so it turned out better than I could imagine," Martinez said.
The biggest change will be a brand new air conditioning and heating system that will keep the library at a more reliable temperature, said Andrea Woodruff, supervising librarian.
There will also be more conference space for small groups, including two glass mini-rooms where adult literacy students will be able to study with tutors.
When walking through the library, Martinez's and Woodruff's descriptions of the changes showed the staff paid attention to people's preferences and worked to find ways to improve efficiency.
The brand new work area for staff has long cubicles, so when the library gets new materials, employees will be able to spread them out on long desks.
"We get a lot of new books, and we now have enough room to work with them," Woodruff said. "We will get them out to the public faster, and there is much more useable space."
The reference desk will allow the public to sit in chairs when asking questions because librarians noticed people prefer to converse while seated. And some reference questions take a long time to answer, like when Woodruff spent time helping a woman find her birth certificate after only knowing the state she was born.
The restrooms, which have suffered from vandalism in the past, now have walls with barely any grouting for people to write messages on. The tiles are also a dark blue because whenever the staff removes permanent marker from the wall, it smears blue.
Library at a glance
- It will be closed from July 20 to Aug. 2. During the two weeks
it is closed, people can still drop off books at the book drop. It
will probably remain at the temporary Pine Street location the
first week the library is closed. Then, it will be moved to the
library's permanent location at 201 W. Locust St.
- The library will reopen at the Locust Street location on Aug.
- Logs for the teen summer reading club will be due Aug.
- Cost of renovations to everything besides the children's area:
- Children's area: $300,000 to $400,000
The staff will be able to direct a person to follow a path on the floor to the literacy room instead of directing them to follow signs they might not be able to read.
For those who forgot what the old library looks like, they can just look at the adult section, which was not touched.
"We are hoping this carpet will make that carpet look so ugly that people will notice," Woodruff joked.
The library only had enough money to complete part of the renovations and is already started raising funds to finish the rest of the library. The adult area will cost about $1 million to complete, she said.
"We are referring to that as 'the rest of the story,'" Martinez said.
As city staff worked to get the new library ready Thursday afternoon, patrons at the temporary location at 212 W. Pine St. were excited the library was moving back to its permanent location.
After not finding a place to sit at the temporary location, Fay Hanson talked with 10-year-old Michelle Ocampo and 11-year-old Marlene Rodriguez about sitting somewhere across the street to study.
Hanson is excited to have more space to tutor the two girls at the new library.
"Some days we get here and it's packed, so we need to go somewhere else," she said.
As a librarian's associate, Janae Kambestad said she cannot wait to have access to the entire collection because it has been a challenge to answer people's questions at the reference desk.
The smaller space has also meant people do not have much of an opportunity to browse, she said.
The fact that the library can be remodeled is encouraging for Lodi resident Barb Standridge.
"Although it was not uncomfortable, you can always move up," she said. "So many libraries have closed their doors, which is detrimental to the public."