The remodeled Sherman Public Library building will likely reopen before the end of July.
In addition to putting the finishing touches on the nearly $2 million renovation that began over a year ago, city crews are working on adding a small park and gazebo to the library’s grounds. During the Sherman City Council’s budget workshop earlier this month, Parks and Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson showed a picture of a pavilion that would provide seating and shade, as well as an area with outdoor musical instruments on small stands for children.
“We’re looking at some playground equipment as well as this equipment,” Hutchinson said of the area near the corner of Walnut Street and Mulberry Street. “We’re looking at something a little bit more creative at this location to provide opportunities for their (the library’s) children’s programs, as well as for people just to check out a book and come outside and enjoy the fresh air and read.”
Library Services Administrator MeLissa Eason said the outdoor area has been a longtime wish of library staff and patrons.
“We thought it would be nice to have a gazebo,” Eason said. “I had seen the musical instruments at other libraries other places, so I wanted to take those two elements and make a good outdoor space that we could do programming and that kids could just come out and play.”
Eason said the plan is to also have plants around the gazebo that will attract butterflies, similar to what the Dallas Public Library does.
“We’ve done some programming where the kids did the planting and things like that, so I don’t know who will be responsible in the long run, but I’d like to start it as something where the library itself and maybe the city of Sherman is doing the actual planting,” Eason said.
The renovations to the library building included the demolition of a 3,364-square-foot addition on the building’s south side, a new roof and mechanical system for the entire building, as well as a new fire alarm system, restroom layout and shelving. That work hit a snag in April of last year after a fire was intentionally set in the library. Sherman offered a $5,000 reward last year for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the fire, but no arrests were ever made.
Sherman originally planned to keep the library open during the renovations, but it was moved to its temporary location at 1000 N. East Street, which is across from the Glennie O. Han Community Center, after that fire. Assistant City Manager Steve Ayers said all the interior construction has been completed and city staff are currently working on the parking lot, landscaping and small punch list items on the interior.
“Considering when we came into the project, we went into a 43-year-old building with a construction budget of about $1.8 million,” Ayers said. “When it’s all said and done, we anticipate it’s going to be within 3 percent of our estimated budget from the beginning, which on a project like that is really good. Usually if you can keep it 5 (percent) or less, it’s pretty good. So I think we feel really good that a 43- to 44-year-old building like that, that was a burnout, that we stayed right at the budget.”
Ayers explained some of the things that brought the project past the original budget were discovering some asbestos that had to be dealt with, as well as water and sewer lines that needed to be replaced.
“We had some items like that, where we were ‘OK, we’re going to have to go ahead and take care of that now,’” Ayers said. “That put us a little outside the budget.”
Eason said in addition to touch ups inside and the work outside the library, two of the final things to be done will be the installation of shelving and setting up computers.
“My shelving is running late or we would probably be a little quicker (to open),” Eason said. “We were hoping to start with shelving, but since it’s running late, we are going to start with furniture. Then we’re going to be setting up the computers after that and doing some staff training on some new software that we’re going to be using.”
She explained the new software should help cut down on the amount of excess pages library patrons may mistakenly print, among other things.
“Sometimes they would print 20 pages and they would come up to us and we had to dig through a pile and they would say, ‘I only wanted two pages,’” Eason said. “We’re going to have software that will ask them, ‘Do you want to print all these pages’ and they can say no, I only wanted these two pages. I have someone scheduled to come train us on that and install it.”
Then the library’s new shelving is scheduled to be delivered July 9.
“We’re going to be moving around the furniture at that point, trying to get it set up,” the library services administrator said. “At that point, it’ll just be putting things on the shelves.”
Both Eason and Ayers estimated the ribbon cutting for the remodeled building will probably be in late July, but Eason said there will also be a grand opening celebration on Aug. 4.
“We have a big grand opening, carnival-style party scheduled,” Eason said. “Theatricks will be performing, we’ve got the Children’s Chorus of Greater North Texas will be performing, we’ve got a magician that’ll be walking around doing tricks. We’re trying to find some other little things along those lines. We’re going to have a bounce house and free hot dogs. Most of the activity will be in the parking lot, but we’ll be giving tours in the library as well.”