By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Renovations are underway at the Wauseon Public Library with an eye toward a spring re-opening.
The original Carnegie Library desperately needed renovations due to its crumbling foundation. It was thought the staff could work around the renovations, but the safety of the 1905 structure was in question and thusly forced the staff to move out.
Work at the downtown Wauseon site includes the foundation getting new life. All the funding for the project is being handled in house.
“They have the ceiling down,” Director Maricela DeLeon said. “They have the walls down,
Crews are finding some gems from the past, she said.
“They found the original brick archway that led to the basement,” DeLeon said. “It’s beautiful. It’s all brick, but it’s old. It’s just wonderful.
“I’m hoping they will save it and incorporate it into the renovation plan rather than just tearing it down.”
The other gem is a wallpaper print found in the old children’s section on the third floor. The paper is a print of a jungle with lions in the tall grass.
That cannot be saved, but the staff was able to take plenty of photos, DeLeon said.
While the renovations are painful to some of the staff, only DeLeon, who has worked at the library for 27 years, has been here for some earlier renovations. A new section was added in 1985 before she started and in 2007 the current children’s library was built.
‘I think the majority of us want that old brick just saved,” DeLeon said.
The original plan was to rebuild the foundation, but then it was decided to move the elevator to the front and make the restrooms ADA compliant. While the changes will significantly improve the library, they will prevent the structure from ever being the National Register of Historical Places, DeLeon said.
The staff will consider the building a historical Carnegie Library, just the same, she said.
Meanwhile, the staff and a small portion of the collection are housed on Shoop Avenue next to Arby’s. Many services remain available. The library has been in its temporary home since Aug. 1.
The staff of seven women and one man moved as much as they could out of the library and into the new digs, DeLeon said. Some shelving left behind was brought over by the contractors and DeLeon was installing them Sept. 13.
The project got off to a late start, so library officials are unsure exactly when they will move back, but they have told sometime at the end of April.
The reaction at first was negative due to road construction on Linfoot, but those complaints are fading away. Many now like the library being on a single floor, which is motivating the staff to get more shelving in to bring more of the collection over.
The temporary library has about 20 percent of the collection, DeLeon said. Thanks to the interloan program, patrons can get the books they need from other libraries, she said.
Patrons are beginning to find the library much easier than at first. The staff put out as much notice as they could and there is a temporary sign at the driveway off Shoop.
The library is open with the same hours as the downtown site. It is staffed with nine employees and two pages.
The old building has a sign on the front door as well people seeing the contractors there now, DeLeon said.
James Pruitt may be reached at