Staff at the downtown branch of Red Deer Public Library are thrilled with a brighter, fresher feel to Level 2 and a grand re-opening was held Monday to mark the occasion.
The public was invited for refreshments and a self-guided tour of the attractive, renovated space, which included replacing the old yellowed-coffered ceiling with a lighter, brighter flat ceiling that is slightly higher than the other and the removal of old wood paneling.
Crews also installed energy-efficient lighting, and painted the walls and the shelving which has brightened the level considerably as well.
“My biggest thanks are reserved for you – the residents of Red Deer. We have appreciated your patience along the way,” said Jim Taylor, chair of the library’s board. “And also for the many comments we received on our ‘talking wall’ which you may recall.
“We learned how much you love the library, and how much you missed the collections. We hope you will agree that it’s been worth the wait and that your patience has been rewarded with a welcoming, bright space that suits our vibrant collections. Welcome and enjoy!”
Taylor also pointed out that part of the library’s goal is to have warm, comfortable and invited places for the public to visit.
“We think these changes have certainly made this area more warm, inviting and comfortable for our library patrons.”
The carpets were also cleaned, the floor was waxed and the collections were reorganized before opening to the public officially last week.
As the library’s CEO, Christina Wilson, pointed out, the project was also fully funded by the City of Red Deer with a capital commitment of $380,000.
Scott Builders were the primary contractors and the project was managed by Group2 and Red Deer Public Library staff. The talented and dedicated team completed the project within four months, on schedule and on budget, she said.
“This is really phase two of a project that began in 2012,” she said. “We were so fortunate that the City gave us capital funding for this – that was really tremendous. And the icing on the cake is that we learned just last week that we’ve also received Community Facilities Enhancement Project funding from the Government of Alberta,” she said.
“In 2015, the board, the staff and the community went through a plan and service process, and we heard what the community really wanted to see as well,” she said, adding that from that very process and three-year plan for the library was shaped.
“Two aspects of that were (making sure) this is a comfortable space and to help visitors express their creativity, which would be morphed into digital creativity as well,” she said, adding they knew at that point that it was essential to build a framework for what could be a makerspace digital lab, or something new and exciting along those lines.
Roughing in a space that could be used for those more creative purposes was, as indicated, a key part of that plan. Currently, that is located on the north side of Level 2. On Monday, several chairs and a screen were set up to show folks something of the potential of that area.
“The board approved a digital literacy plan back in 2012, so we are weaving that together,” she said. “You are seeing the beginnings of it in this physical change today.”
For Briana Ehnes, manager of adult services, the fresh look makes Level 2 not just more inviting to the public, but to employees as well.
“From the customers who have been in, they’ve commented on the fact that it’s a lot lighter and brighter,” she said. “Others have commented on the fresh look, too. A few have noticed the feature colour, and even a couple have noted that it has that ‘new car’ smell,” she added with a laugh. “Everything just feels cleaner, too.
“Working on this floor, the lighting itself is just so much better. And the floor needed a little TLC, too,” she said, adding that some of the fixes and changes may not even be noticeable to the public, such as the removal of some shelves and other items which ultimately have given Level 2 a much more open feel.
“It’s made a big difference in the overall feel of the place.”
Meanwhile, Wilson said that overall, Red Deer Public Library continues to be a community hub, and it’s making an impact on those who visit for whatever reason.
“Our library board recently had a joint meeting with Calgary’s and Edmonton’s boards. We met up in the Waskasoo board room just before renovations. Think of what they have – they have 16 branches each. And they walked in here and went, ‘Wow – this place is something else!’ So you get to see it brand new through their eyes, too.”
Ultimately, for Wilson, there couldn’t be a more fitting or fulfilling line of work.
“It’s a joy to work here, and a privilege to serve the people of Red Deer.”