Packing 37 years of history takes time — and lots of planning.
Taylor County Public Library staff members are seeing just how much stuff has accumulated over nearly four decades of time at their home away from home on North Columbia Avenue.
The library is now closed to the public, while staff members sort through what they want to take to their new building on East Broadway, what they will throw away and what will be donated to other libraries.
Taylor County Public Library Director Julia Turpin says some items staff members have found have been a bit unusual.
From a very old CPR dummy to a mailbox to hundreds of pieces of bright colored felt and several rolls of Little Mermaid wrapping paper, Turpin says staff members have been a bit surprised at just what was in their building.
“We have more yellow legal pads than we know what to do with,” she said.
And the library’s collection of decorations, including greenery and sombreros and other crafts, is pretty extensive.
The library’s collection of about 10,000 books is in the process of being cleaned, sorted and carefully organized onto large carts.
Turpin said some books will get new labels and the children’s collection is being completed reorganized. Library staff members say they have found some unusual items in books over the years, from chicken feathers to cards and love letters to homework.
The two weeks before the library closed on Jan. 21, library staff members asked the public to check out lots of books to help make the move a bit easier.
And Turpin says the public responded. Circulation for those two weeks was higher than the entire previous month, she said.
Many people took advantage of the 25 books per person limit, she said, instead of picking up only a few.
While library staff members are packing up on North Central Avenue, workers are busy completing the new library on East Broadway.
Turpin said a final inspection of the building is expected this week. If all goes well, she said, library staff members can start the move into their new digs some time next week.
“Every time I go in there, it looks more and more incredible,” she said.
Turpin said the upcoming weather will determine when the new library building can open, because its parking lot isn’t quite finished yet.
“That’ll keep us right on track,” she said.
A grand opening and open house has tentatively been set for Thursday, March 7, though Turpin says she hopes the new building will be open by then. Several dignitaries will speak and tours will be given.
Turpin has said libraries typically close for six to eight weeks to move, though she hopes Taylor County’s won’t be closed that long.
Construction on the project to turn the former Gabehart Lumber building into the new library began in June. Before then, the project had been in the planning stages for quite some time.
Blevins Construction Co. is overseeing the project, which is estimated to cost about $1 million.
Turpin says the project is under budget.
“I don’t think we’re gonna have to borrow any money,” she said. “We’ve really been watching our pennies.”
Turpin said she doesn’t know of any other libraries in the state that have been able to move to a new building without borrowing money.
And she says that’s a testament to the work by the library staff members and former director Elaine Munday.
“Because it was their savings that got it to this point,” she said. “I had nothing to do with it.”
And since the library hasn’t had to borrow money for the project, Turpin said, money saved can be used toward purchasing supplies and materials. Turpin says she believes the new library is going to look like it cost much more than it did.
“I think people are really gonna like it,” she said. “It’s been very much a learning experience.”
Throughout her career working for six different libraries, Turpin said, she has visited many different buildings and believes the new one is her favorite.
Turpin said the new library is much more handicapped accessible, with automatic doors and lower desks for those in wheelchairs.
While the library is closed, Turpin said, those needing to check out books can visit the bookmobile next Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the current library location.
Books currently checked out are due Monday, Feb. 18. If the library isn’t open by then, Turpin said, she asks that patrons keep their books until the new building officially opens.
Patrons can also access the library’s e-book system and wireless Internet service while the building is closed.
And those who have books that are overdue, Turpin said, shouldn’t worry about being charged a fine for returning them.
“Please don’t be ashamed. We’d rather have the book back than lose the patron,” Turpin said.
After the library moves, Turpin said staff will begin offering physical library cards to its patrons with their patron identification numbers. They will allow patrons to easily renew books online and access the e-book system.
In addition to moving locations, the library’s hours of operation at its new building will be different.
The library’s current location was open from 9 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the library is open from 9 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. On Saturdays, the library is open from 9 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
When the new building opens, the library will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. And on Saturdays, the library will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The current library building won’t sit idle for long. Offices at the Team Taylor County building across the street will move into the library building and Campbellsville City Council will have meeting chambers there. The Team Taylor County building was sold to Campbellsville University for $205,000.
For updates on the library’s move, or more information about the library, visit its website at www.taylorcountypubliclibrary.org.
The library also has a Facebook page, and updates will be on local radio stations and printed in the CKNJ.
The next meeting of the library’s board will be Monday at noon at the current location on North Central Avenue. It is open to the public.