By Madison Morse
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter
After years of saving and carefully well-thought-out plans based on community needs, The Grand Ledge Area District Library will be undergoing a massive renovation to start this spring.
“By very prudently saving we saved a percentage that was over our working capital that we needed for many, many years, said Grand Ledge Library Board of Trustees President Joan Kane. “Back in ’08 we tried to do this and had our same architect then realized we didn’t have enough money to do what we needed to do.”
“With the new renovation we will be pushing the entrance out. There will be an elevator that will go up to the club room which is the old 1931 building,” said Kane. “There will be a bathroom upstairs now, which there never has been. They are giving us 240 days, eight months, to complete the project.”
The renovation comes after much consideration of the needs of the Grand Ledge community.
“The community always needs space. People take up more space than books do,” said Grand Ledge Library Director Lise Mitchell.
“So as libraries changed and became more community centers the community started looking for places to study. They want to have collaborative work spaces, they want more technology, they want electricity. Giving places for assistance, that’s what other libraries are doing and that’s what they keep asking us.”
Mitchell has her finger on the pulse of the community needs according to East Lansing Library Director Kristin Shelley.
“The library is teeny tiny and topped up. This renovation will allow a much better flow of the floor plan, much more user friendly. They need lots of people space and gathering space. Places where people can meet. The library is a true community hub. People come in and meet their neighbors or friend. They need the space.”
However, don’t forget to factor in power and wifi says East Lansing Head of Customer Experiences/Assistant Director Jason Shoup.
“I have done a couple library renovations in my career. The first thing I would say is Grand Ledge needs more power then they think they do, said Shoup. “Power, power, power is number one.”
“Number two: places for people to plug in, make sure wifi is really robust. For every person in the building there is 1.25 devices attached to wifi. Almost everyone has a phone and a lot have a laptop or tablet.”
“The third is planning for some meeting space not just for library programs but for the community to come in and make use of them.”
It’s not just the library that is excited about the change, residents of the community are also happy to see the plan finally in action.
“I’m glad to see it going. I think it would be great for the community. I can use the library even more,” said Grand Ledge resident John Clark. “Lise has things organized a little differently and it’s going to help her do that function.”
So where is it libraries are headed in the future?
“That’s the billion dollar question. I really see libraries going more tech driven, even more so than now. They will become the place where people can get that human touch, said Shelley. “People can use us more for a central focus gathering place. Also to produce more information and content. Whether that’s via a 3-D printer or sewing machine. It’s important to cater to all ages.”