Hall County Library's Gainesville branch will reopen to the public on Monday, Sept. 21. The facility has been closed for month for a remodel.
"This is like an entirely new library-just in the same location as the old one," Hall County Library System Director Lisa MacKinney said. "We have a new entry, a larger youth area, a story time room, study rooms, improved security in the history and genealogy area and a large meeting room. It is such a functional, updated space."
The remodeled space includes a facelift for the entire building, which was originally constructed in the 1970s.
"This facility has been a place of refuge and learning for countless people for roughly half a century," MacKinney said. "So while we've updated it in almost every way, we've taken great care to maintain its sense of discovery and respite-and, of course, we've left the large, iconic spiraled staircase as a nod to the building's former life."
A small, private rededication ceremony was held with elected officials and key stakeholders for the project on Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Northeast Georgia Health System Community Room. That ceremony was also streamed live at www.hallcounty.org and www.hallcountylibrary.org. A virtual tour of the library will be available in coming weeks on Hall County's website.
"We are looking forward to having the public come and see this new space and all of the wonderful resources it offers; however, we are mindful of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and want to ensure this reopening is done in a way that is safe for the public and for library employees," said Hall County Assistant Administrator Marty Nix.
Nix said library staff will be wearing masks and that the public is encouraged to do so as well. Social distancing and other guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, the White House and the State of Georgia will also be followed.
Construction on the library branch began in the spring, with the library temporarily moving next door into the former Turner, Wood & Smith Insurance building. Plans are now underway to turn that building into a parking deck, which will provide much needed parking for visitors to the downtown Gainesville square and will also include dedicated parking for the library.
"We are incredibly grateful to our legislative delegation for supporting our building grant, to the City of Gainesville for offering a temporary space for us to use during construction, and to the Hall County Board of Commissioners for financially supporting this project," MacKinney said. "Because of their support and the support of this community, the downtown branch will be able to efficiently serve Hall County residents for years to come."
BCA Studios served as the architect on the project, while Scroggs and Grizzel and the Hall County Construction Division managed the build.
Funds for the renovation and expansion, totaling approximately $5.35 million, came from local Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax and impact fees and was supplemented by a $2 million grant from the State of Georgia.