Dig This With Deb

A column to tell people about the building process by Deb Blanchard

After many months of waiting to get a date from the General Contractor that the library will be ready for a move back, we are finally able to make plans.
The temporary library will be closed for business starting Monday November 18th (at the close of business Friday November 15th at 5:30) and will reopen to the public on December 30th at 9:30 a.m.

Everyone is very eager to move back to the library and reopen to the public. There has been confusion as many people read in the newspaper about the November 4th ‘date of substantial completion’ as the day that the doors would swing wide to allow the public to venture in. Unfortunately, this is not what it means. Substantial completion is the date that the building can be seen as recognizable for its intended purpose, namely a library. Once that milestone is reached, there are still things that need to happen. An important one is the final inspection. The building inspector has to review the numerous documents including the engineering reports. She then has to do final inspections of the building along with all the other inspection departments: fire, wiring, plumbing, DPW and so on. If a correction is needed, the subcontractor responsible must be called back onsite to fix it. Then the commissioning agents must come in and test everything from indoor air quality to mechanical systems. All systems must be ‘GO’ before a certificate of occupancy, the golden ticket to reopen, can be issued.
Together with this, a punch list of other deficiencies that are not safety related or operational to the building must be created by the architect, project manager and library staff. It could be as simple as a sloppy corner on the sheetrock to as complicated as a missing light switch. While we have worked hard to catch these problems as we go, sometimes they do not become apparent until everything is in place.
While all this is happening, our utilities such as internet, telephone and cable service equipment must be moved back to the library, installed and tested. This is no easy task coordinating the various companies and timing it so that we are ready to shut down at the temporary location and move it back to the library.
Once the temporary library closes up shop at the end of business on Friday November 15th at 5:30 p.m., the staff must pack up all the books and materials, clean out drawers and cupboards and ready computers and machines for the move. The staff breathed a sigh of relief when Castine Movers, a professional company based in Athol, donated their services to move us back. This generous offer is worth over $12,000 and is incredibly appreciated by the staff . Our community is fortunate to have a number of generous and involved businesses like Castine’s.
Closing the library for any period of time is something we have always tried to avoid. In this case it is safer and quicker for everyone to shut down. Area libraries were kind enough to pick up the slack for us on the move out and have stepped up to assist our customers on the way back. So, please take advantage of the surrounding towns’ libraries and thank them for being such good neighbors!
Back in the new building, we must unpack and familiarize ourselves with the new systems – heating, cooling, air handling units, service panels – this list is long and frankly a little scary. Fortunately, training is being provided to us which is being videotaped and manuals are being prepared by the subcontractors for us to refer back to.
Because we had to fundraise for our furniture (and in Massachusetts you are not allowed to order things unless you have the money in hand), we will be bringing back our old furniture until the new things arrive. We have been very fortunate to have generous individual donors to help us meet the L.S. Starrett Company Challenge Match Grant of $50,000 (matched by Starrett’s with an additional $50,000); our Naming Opportunities Campaign has brought in $150,000 and a combination of grants netted another $175,000 for a total of $425,000 towards our goal of $500,000. Furniture and equipment purchases have been prioritized according to specific donors’ wishes and grant restrictions, then by need.
Furniture orders take 6-10 weeks depending on the item so we expect to be happily unpacking new items throughout January and replacing the old things.
As you can see, all of this is time consuming and requires a great deal of coordination and labor. Once it is accomplished and the building is spit polished, we will have a ‘soft’ opening where everyone can come in and enjoy the library. There will be kinks to work out, of course – just the staff learning where to direct people to find the closest bathroom or where the large print materials are now as examples, is going to take time.
During this phase we will be planning our dedication ceremony which will be held on either a Saturday or Sunday at the end of January so that school children and working folks can attend. You can bet there will be food, balloons and fun involved. Can’t wait to see you there!