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Volunteers pitch in to create new library

Lori Fisher gets more paint for her roller. She’s a member of the Friends of the Addison Township Public Library. (click for larger version)
August 31, 2011 - It may take a village to raise a child, but it definitely takes a township to build a library.

Over the weekend, a group of hard-working Addison residents rolled up their sleeves, grabbed some brushes and rollers, and began painting the interior and exterior of the library's new 3,000-square-foot spaced located in the Lakeville Towne Square strip mall along Rochester Road.

"We've had a huge outpouring of support," said Library Director Jaema Berman. "We're so impressed with all the support we've had. It's just incredible to see so much devotion and dedication."

Berman indicated right now, the "best case scenario" is the new library will open in mid-October.

"That's our goal," she said.

"It depends on how many people we can get to help us move books. We need carts to move the books," noted Library Board Member Su Hatfield.

Work on the new library began back in mid-June, when volunteers gathered to gut the interior of three strip mall units to transform their use from commercial to community.

"It's estimated that we saved about $10,000 by having the volunteers do the demolition," Hatfield said. "The volunteers have saved us a lot of money."

Since then, the project's rolled right along in a most economical fashion with the library obtaining whatever it needs through a combination of donations and bargain-shopping.

For instance, Berman noted the library purchased six over-stuffed leather chairs from Borders Books, which has been liquidating its stores nationwide, for about $1,300.

"They normally cost about $500 to $600 (each)," she said. "They're in very decent condition."

Overall, the library budgeted $60,000 for the big renovation and move. Right now, it appears the project may come in at or below this cost.

"I think we're going to be pretty close to that number," Berman said. "We've spent about $25,000 so far."

Unlike its tiny 1,300-square-foot building, which by all accounts is the antithesis of a user-friendly facility, the new Addison library will feature additions such as:

• Separate adult, teen and children's areas.

• Plenty of seating for reading and working.

• Four public access computers, one card catalog computer and two computers outfitted with educational games for children.

• Separate circulation and reference desk areas.

• A private break room/lunch room for staff.

• A children's storytime area.

• Wireless internet access so patrons can utilize their laptop computers.

• Space for small public meetings and gatherings.

"We're really excited about all of our new space," Berman said.

The director emphasized the success of this project is primarily due to the residents and volunteers who have chosen to make their public library a top priority.

"During this economic downturn a lot of libraries are going begging to the community for help, like in Troy, and they're being turned away," she explained. "But here, the community is stepping right up and being really supportive and positive about this institution."

Hatfield agreed.

"It's really been phenomenal," she said. "We couldn't have done it without these people."

Berman predicted the new library is "going to become a community center."

Hatfield's definitely on-board with that idea. "That's what we need in this township," she said. "We don't have a community center. Hopefully, this will kind of fill that need."

Although she's excited about the new library, Hatfield keeps reminding people it's only temporary.

"We have to remember this is the interim library," she said. "Our goal is still the bigger one that we need. We're going to outgrow this so fast, people will be surprised. But it's a nice stepping stone to the next one."

Ultimately, the library has plans to someday construct a brand new facility right across the street from the strip mall on nearly 4 acres of previously-donated land.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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