By Marlana Ward
Patrons of the Johnson County Public Library will soon be enjoying a new, expanded work area as the renovation and expansion project at the library is entering its last few weeks. Crews are working long hours to ensure that the work will be done soon and that visitors to the library have an improved experience when they open the doors to the new addition.
Library Director Linda Icenhour shared how the expansion will help library patrons: “The addition will be a space to sit and read, study, do research, or work on their personal devices. We will move reference books and magazines into that space along with the two big tables. We are purchasing nine one to two-person tables that will be spread not only in the new space but in the old space as well. We will also have some short shelving to put reference books on as well.”
The project started in July 2018, has had various crews of different vocations involved with the construction. Currently, crews continue work on the outside of the library, the bathroom renovations, and on electrical work. The crews have recently completed the flooring for the bathrooms and the new addition.
The bathroom renovations were some of the most needed for the library and Icenhour shared that there now will be separate, multi-stall restrooms for men and women.
The project as a whole has gone well as Icenhour shared, “We have had very few hiccups in the construction such as a debris field under the concrete where the flagpole stood and the wrong size water line running into the building. Corrections were made at minimal cost for the debris field and for the replacement of the water line, the Town of Mountain City very generously replaced it at no cost to us.”
As far as the construction affecting day-to-day operations at the library, the staff and construction crews have tried to keep disruptions to a minimum. “Other than being closed for several days and the fact that we have had no bathrooms (thank you, Board of Education, for letting us use your bathrooms) we really have not been overly affected by construction issues,” explained Icenhour. “We will have to be closed another day for cleaning purposes. I’m not sure exactly when that will be though.”
The project is slated for completion before Christmas but the staff hopes for an even earlier opening date for the new area. “On paper, the completion date is Dec. 23,” said Icenhour. “However, we expect to be done before that.”
Throughout the expansion project, the library has seen help and support from many in the community, and they are extremely grateful to all who helped make the improvements possible. “Of course, Kathleen Mount has been our biggest benefactor and our greatest champion on this project and past projects,” expressed Icenhour. “We could not have done it without her and the support she has always shown for this library. She stood and fought at difficult times in this county when the hospital and Burlington closed to make sure this county had a library. And I’m thankful for the support of the entire community, whether they purchased a brick for $100 or a bookplate for $1 every single dollar we have raised went into this new addition. This county should be proud of its library. It’s well used and thanks to the great assistants and awesome volunteers I have, it’s well run. We have a great board of directors and a terrific Friends of the Library group. Also, I’m thankful for the grants we were able to obtain through Tennessee State Library and Archives and Louis Trivette with the USDA for making this addition come to fruition.”