Alpena County Library on track to open in several weeks
ALPENA — The Alpena County Library may not look much different on the exterior when the renovations wrap up, but when visitors walk through the main entrance, it is going to seem like an entirely new facility.
It will still be several weeks until the library in downtown Alpena opens, Library Director Eric Magness-Eubank said.
Immediately upon entering people will notice a large metal staircase to their right. It replaces the one formerly in the center of the ground-floor level, and opens up much space for browsing books, working on computers, or enjoying a view of the city from the large windows. Newly remodeled bathrooms and a host of modern furniture and fixtures are installed throughout the premises to make library users’ experience simple, convenient, and fun.
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In 2019, Alpena County voters handily approved a 20-year, 0.25-mill property tax renewal for the library to cover the extensive costs for much needed HVAC upgrades and for remodeling and operations.
“We basically built a 21st century library inside of a shell from the 20th century,” Eubank said. The taxpayers are getting the best possible library that this community can afford to have. I think people will walk away from here when it is open, impressed and proud.”
The upstairs is designed for children and has a special teen center that will separate the teens from the smaller kids. It is also going to be the home of the facility’s special collections that will be confined in a special climate-controlled area that will help preserve the materials it houses.
The entire building is more user friendly, especially for people who are disabled or elderly. The elevator is now in a convenient location and getting from one room to another will make it easy for people who may need a wheelchair to move from place to place.
“This building has just become a whole lot more user friendly than it ever was,” Eubank said. “The ease of using the library will never have been better.”
Contractors continue to connect lighting fixtures in the building and there is some work left to do on the exterior of the facility, but Eubank said soon the books that are at a temporary location at the Bear Point Plaza will be moved back downtown. He said that could take about two weeks.
Eubank said the doors to the facility could open to the public sometime in October, but didn’t want to speculate on an exact date.
The project went smoothly considering what contractors had to deal with. After construction began, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and more recently an employee and material shortages caused short delays.
Despite that, Eubank said he is pleased with the amount of time it has taken to do the large project, and with the final product.
“I think we have done really good, considering the cards we were dealt,” he said