OBITUARIES: Decatur | Shoals | Huntsville
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Library work on track; reopening weeks away
By Tiffeny Owens
The Decatur Daily

Daily photo by John Godbey
Richard Payne installs refrigerant lines for the air conditioning at the Decatur Public Library on Cherry Street.

Another three to four weeks remain before residents can check out books or access email at the Decatur Public Library, as work to install a new HVAC system continues.

The project to replace the library’s heating and air conditioning system appears to be on schedule, Council President Gary Hammon said. Window tinting has been applied to stabilize internal temperatures, but workers with Decatur’s Smith Service were still installing the state-of-the-art, high-efficiency system this week, library secretary Phyllis Roberts said.

“So far, work has been moving along,” she said. “Most of the staff has been working out of a house. Each of us has our own little room, while the circulation staff has been working at the temporary location at Decatur Mall.”

The library closed in November. Some staff members have used vacation time, while others have kept busy participating in online training and writing grants.

“We’re ready to be back in our home at the library, helping everybody that comes through the doors,” Roberts said.

A limited selection of items are available in the community room at the mall.

Those who rely on the library’s free computers and Internet service, which are not at the mall, have Calhoun Community College as an option.

“When classes were still going on in December and November, it was pretty busy and hard for some people to find a computer,” said Brenda Parris, a Calhoun reference librarian. “But since classes have been out, it hasn’t been too bad. But classes are about to start again on Monday, so it could get busy again.”

Decatur is covering the costs of the $423,000 project because the library belongs to the city. Officials originally budgeted $317,000 last summer, but as the extent of the problem became more apparent, additional work was deemed necessary.

The original system ran up energy bills as much as $94,000 annually. The library had to be evacuated after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes, when the system pumped out toxic fumes once power was restored.

But the job’s costs are about to increase again with a $47,000 bill submitted to the city for additional services rendered by Decatur’s Cornerstone Engineering Group. The council will consider the bill at Monday night’s meeting. But the good news is the roof, once thought to need immediate repair, doesn’t appear to be leaking, Hammon said.

The library, which employs 22, says it served nearly 250,000 customers at the Cherry Street Northeast location in 2011, while many others accessed its resources online. It’s funded by the city, county, state and federal government and had a $786,000 budget last year.

Library closure

The Decatur Public Library plans to reopen once its new HVAC system is installed. Here’s helpful information to know during the closure:
All items checked out will be due Feb. 1 and can be turned in at the outdoor book drop at the library or the temporary location in the community room at Decatur Mall.

  • A limited selection of books, audio books and DVDs will be available at Decatur Mall. No computers or copiers will be there. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
  • Decatur Animal Services on Beltline Road Southwest has a meeting room free to use from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It does not have computers or Wi-Fi Internet access.
  • Calhoun Community College’s Brewer Library will open from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. today and is closed on weekends. It will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30-11:45 a.m. on Friday beginning next week. It will be closed Jan. 21 to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
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