Sherman is setting up a new temporary public library at the city’s Glennie O. Ham Community Center, 1000 N. East St., with plans to open the location Monday.

(Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional comments from Library Services Administrator MeLissa Eason.)

Sherman is setting up a new temporary public library at the city’s Glennie O. Ham Community Center, 1000 N. East St., with plans to open the location Monday.

The temporary location will give city residents access to library services for the next several months while repairs are made from a fire the Sherman Public Library suffered last week and work can get underway on a planned $1.5 million renovation to the facility.

“This option provided us the with the quickest path to restoring essential library services, with the added benefit of allowing for more extensive repair and renovation work,” Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said via text message. “The plan is to provide services out of the temporary location for a couple of months. We plan to reopen the main library building and continue renovations.”

Library Services Administrator MeLissa Eason wrote on the city’s website that computers and limited materials will be available once the temporary location is opened, but a courier will also be delivering materials to and from the Grayson College Library and the Denison Public Library. Eason also requested volunteers to help with work at the library while repair work is underway.

“Most of the books are fine, but they have a layer of soot and smell like smoke,” Eason wrote. “We will need people to wipe off books and pack them. Children will not be allowed in the building. We would also like to have volunteers setup outside of the current library location to answer questions from patrons who come up. Many people come up asking where to return books and once the new location is open, they will need directions.”

She said Tuesday that the library has gotten a lot of support from citizens.

“We have had to put a tent up in front of the library,” Eason said via email. “This serves as an information center during library hours. It is upsetting that someone would damage the library, but the way that people have come together to help reminds us that there are many wonderful people in this community.”

City officials said the fire that damaged the library was intentionally set in the early morning hours of April 26. Sherman firefighters responded to the library shortly after 2 a.m. that morning and had the fire under control in less than 10 minutes. The flames were contained inside the building, but the majority of the library’s book collection did not receive major damage.

On Friday, the city offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who set the fire. As part of his statement announcing the reward offer, Strauch said an individual broke into the library 1:30 a.m. on April 26 and started a series of fires causing damage to sections of the building.

Strauch said security footage recorded by cameras on neighboring buildings shows “multiple persons of interest” were at the scene between 1:15 a.m. and 2 a.m., and a number of bystanders also passed by the building during that time.

On Tuesday, Strauch said the city has received about a dozen tips about the fire and investigators believe several are credible.

During its budget planning last year, the council told city staff to include a $1,563,304 renovation to the library as part of the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget. Plans for the renovation called for the continued use of the current building and parking lot, but the existing 3,364-square-foot addition on the building’s south side will be demolished.

The work planned for the library will also include a new roof and a new mechanical system for the entire building, as well as a new fire alarm system, restroom layout, furniture and shelving. The existing meeting room will be repurposed for children’s programming and the library will add a single-service station for staff members instead of the multiple locations that are currently located throughout the library.

Director of Public Services Steve Ayers said in February a major goal of the renovation would be to keep the library open to the public as much as possible.

“There may be brief times — a week in there if they’re doing major mechanical where they’re using cranes to bring in air conditioning units or something like that — where there may be brief interruptions,” Ayers said. “But for the most part, our goal is to remain open.”

Eason said Tuesday the temporary location is expected to be open the same regular hours the library previously had.

As part of the renovations, the library is also expected to reduce its book collection from the approximately 100,000 it previously had to about 61,000. Library staff previously said the reference collection was likely to be eliminated as part of the reduction.

In February, the Sherman City Council hired Schmoldt Construction Inc. out of Celina to serve as the construction manager-at-risk for the project. In that role, Schmoldt Construction will take on the risk of the remodeling of the library at a guaranteed maximum price. Schmoldt Construction’s fee for the construction manager-at-risk work will be 3.75 percent of the total cost of the construction phase of the remodel, an amount city staff estimated in February to be about $60,000.

At the time Schmoldt Construction was hired, Eason said the renovation work was expected to take about 10 months to complete.

Strauch said Tuesday it remains to be seen whether the temporary library location will allow the renovation work to be accelerated.

“Certainly that’s the hope,” he said.