Library plans capital projects, including heat plant, parking lot reconstruction


The Wood County District Public Library will address necessary repairs in 2023.

According to Director Michael Penrod, the bid process to replace the heating plant will soon start.

The heating plant dates to 2003 and has a 20-25-year life span, he said.

“We’ll get in replaced before we need to have heat on in November,” Penrod said.

The intent was to do the project in 2022, but the estimate came in higher than expected, he said at the Feb. 27 board meeting.

The library is still on track for a complete reconstruction of the northern half of the parking lot once the adjacent city building project is completed.

“There’s just truck after truck after truck in that lot every day,” said board member Brian Paskvan.

There has been serious damage to the parking lot, which is 20 years old, Penrod said.

He said additional funds will be needed to pave the southern half of the lot. That work will include grinding down 2 inches, installing new pavement and restriping at an estimated cost of $37,000.

Penrod said he had budgeted $30,000 for the work.

He said the library will lose its main parking lot at some point this fall for a month, probably in October, due to the city project next door.

The Carter House lot will remain open, Penrod said.

“It’s better than the day we only had seven parking spaces,” he said. “We’ll get through it. When it’s all done it’s going to be beautiful.”

The building plans dating to 1974 were checked to confirm the feasibility of knocking out a window in the Children’s Place in order to install a doorway.

“It looks like there’s nothing there but some bricks, so they’ll be taking out a window, some brick and putting in a doorway,” Penrod said.

There are also plans to be made to replace the flat roof, which has a 20-year life expectancy.

During the meeting, rain was falling heavily on the building and Penrod said it would be a good test of the roof.

The portion of the flat roof that already has not been replaced due to leaking will be replaced this summer, he said.

The projects will be paid from the library’s capital fund.

In other news, the board learned the library is still trying to fill an IT assistant position and there have been a lot of staff out sick or for other reasons.

“It’s been a hurdle to keep some desks and some buildings operating,” Penrod said.

The bookmobile is 13 years old and also will need to be replaced soon, he said.

“We held the former bookmobile together with prayer and duct tape for 22 years,” Penrod said.

He said the long-term maintenance plan for the bookmobile was 15 years and if the board decided now to replace it, it will take nine months until delivery.

Board President Ken Frisch said the bookmobile is a critical part of the library’s outreach service.

Penrod said the costs of a new vehicle starts at $165,000, then it needs to be upgraded to hold the weight of the books.

He said the library has the largest bookmobile that does not need a driver with a CDL.

The longevity of the library van, which was purchased in 2002 and has 80,000, also is being questioned.

Circulation was 5.8% higher in 2022 than it was in 2021 but is still not back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re at about 80% of what we were in 2019,” Penrod said. “We’re very busy and the growth is very good.”

December historically is the quietest month at the library, but the main library, Walbridge branch and bookmobile all recorded increases over 2021, at the rate of 17%, 24% and 83%, respectively.

Michele Raine, deputy director for library services, reported several events are planned for this month.

On March 10, Amy Webb, author of “When Charlie Met Emma,” will be at the library. On March 11, the Children’s Place will collaborate with the Wood County Park District on making maple syrup that will tie in with the book “Miracles on Maple Hill.”

Also on May 11, the bookmobile will be at the BG Expo at the Wood County Fairgrounds.

On March 25, “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” author and illustrator Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal will visit the library in partnership with Bowling Green State University.

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