From the outside, Lumpkin County’s new library on Morrison Moore Parkway looks complete. But there’s still plenty of work to be done before the expected grand opening in March of 2020.
And the building is much bigger than it looks, said Chestatee Regional Library Director Leslie Clark.
A peek inside shows a vast 21,647-square-foot space that in the next few months will be filled with stacks full of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs; tables and comfortable chairs; benches; computers; work space for staff; a large room for community meetings; and more.
“You could put three of our current library [footprints] in here,” Clark said, “at least two if you count the basement.”
The current library contains about 11,000 square feet divided into two floors. The new library is all on one level.
Georgia Public Library Service determined the amount of space, based on the county’s population, as a prerequisite for the $2 million in grant money it supplied for construction. Lumpkin has been below state standards for 20-plus years when it comes to the size of its library.
Total cost to the project is $4.7 million, but more than that is being spent thanks to community donations to pay for amenities.
“There’s been a lot of community support. I’m really proud and excited to work with the community. It’s truly a community space,” Clark said.
‘A BIG BEAUTIFUL SPACE’
The front entrance of the library closely resembles the neighboring Justice Center with its brick exterior and white columns. A book drop is located on the covered porch where materials can be returned after hours.
“People will have to get out of their cars to drop off materials, but they have to do that now,” Clark said. “And having the drop be on the porch means less damage on materials and the staff doesn’t have to go out in the rain to get returns.”
Heading into the building, patrons will pass through two sets of automatic glass doors. Between the two is another book drop for library returns. Both slots deposit books in a large area where library staff and volunteers will perform check in and other duties.
Also featured on the wall between the sets of doors is a decorative “tree,” the leaves of which will bear the names of those who have made contributions to help fund the library—either in their own name or in honor of someone else.
“It’s a piece of art,” Clark said, “and will be paid for by the Library Task Force. We’re hoping to have it ready before Christmas.”
The circulation desk claims front and center place. It is situated so that it can be seen from any of the other desks—children or adult sections of the library. For Clark, this is one of the most important design elements that went into the new library.
“It’s a big beautiful space, and we wanted it to be open. But we have limited staff, and the desks have been strategically placed so that they all have line of sight. Staff will be able to direct people to the section they are looking for from the circulation desk, or see where a patron may need help, or staff can see if the desk gets busy and needs help.”
For those who want to run in and check out a book or pick up a book on hold and leave, Clark said, there will be a space where the public can access holds and a self check area.
Behind and to the left of the circulation desk will be 18 public access computers, compared to the 12.
Across from the main desk are several glassed-in rooms, one of which is a computer training lab with 16 additional computers of its own. When classes are not being offered the public will be able to access these as well.
“The computers can be used for homework, writing blogs, job applications, browsing the net, video games—we don’t judge,” Clark said.
Additionally, connections for laptops are scattered throughout the space.
Other rooms can be used for library offerings, such as adult coloring, Scrabble, knitting and more.
“A library card opens up so much for people,” Clark said.
FOR THE KIDS
The children’s area, in the rear and to the right, has its own computers, set at desks intended for little people.
The space received special attention to make it inviting. Leadership Lumpkin County Class of 2018 raised funds to have a large mural painted on the wall in that area.
“It will be historical, and have a waterfall and natural features with local plants and animals, a banjo player … all the things that make you think of Dahlonega,” Clark said. “And when you go into the children’s bathroom it will look like you are walking into a gold mine."
The library always offered space to the community for events, meetings and gatherings. The new library also accommodates the community with 1,900 square feet of space that can welcome 100 people, or be divided into two rooms. The area also offers a refrigerator and sink, with a space for vending machines nearby.
The meeting room has before and after library hours access, and can be reserved just like the old library’s meeting space.
Several tutoring rooms—part of the new library—can also be reserved.
“This is so much more than just a building with books,” said Robby Robinson, construction superintendent for building contractor Charles Black Construction Company, Inc. “It’s going to be beautiful.”
Along with all the art work, another feature that helps create the spacious, airy feeling are the 34 six-by-six foot windows that line the walls of the main library space.
“There’s also an outdoor area,” Robinson said. “It’s going to look like a garden, with grass, trees and landscaping. It will be fenced in with ornamental fencing and there will be a sidewalk.”
“We’re discussing tables and benches,”Clark added.
So far, with only a few minor glitches, the facility is on time and under budget.
“We expect to receive a temporary Certificate of Occupation so we can start bringing in furniture and book shelves in February,” Robinson said.