Library Closing For Improvements Aug. 20

A slide from a presentation shows the work that will be done to the library’s lights. Courtesy image.



Los Alamos Daily Post


Patrons at Mesa Public Library can look forward to more comfortable conditions inside the library as Los Alamos County prepares to replace the HVAC system and lighting inside the library. However, this also means the library will be closed Aug. 20 through the end of November.


Despite the closure, the Library System is making efforts to continue many of its services and programs for the community.


The County Council approved the capital improvement project during its meeting May 22. The cost for the project is $3.275 million and includes replacing the HVAC system, replacing the existing fluorescent lighting system with LEDs, installing solar film on the skylights located in the library’s reference area, and cleaning the duct system of years of buildup and allergens.  


The County also will install a new electrical transformer to accommodate the higher load requirements of the new HVAC system while providing needed maintenance of the elevator control system.


All parties involved are excited about the project.


County Library Manager Eileen Sullivan said, “Overall  use of the library has changed … really the trend for the library is to be a hub for the community … so having (it be) more comfortable will benefit (the library).”


“I’m excited about getting it started,” Public Works Director Philo Shelton said. “It is much needed building improvements.”


The project was awarded to Mick Rich Contractors and Shelton said funds for the project will be come from the County’s CIP fund.


Improving the library’s HVAC system is necessary due to its age. The system is original to the library; which is 25 years old.


County Engineer Eric Martinez said the system is evaporative. When the weather gets hot and humid, it doesn’t work as well, he explained.


Martinez added, “The architecture of the building makes the lighting and the movement of air challenging and the new system will be an improvement.”


The new system will be refrigerated, which is more efficient and effective in various weather conditions, he said. And the new HVAC system will feature two cooling fans so if one goes out, the other will still be operational. Similarly, the new heating system also will feature two boilers for the same purpose.


While the system should be more comfortable to library patrons, it should also be beneficial to the library’s book collection. Shelton pointed out that high humidity generated by existing swamp cooling system is not the ideal condition for books.


Replacing the lights with LEDs allows the library to be more energy efficient. Shelton said the new lights will help offset utility costs and reduce electricity use in the library.


He added the new improvements will hopefully encourage more people to utilize the library. “We hope to have more people in the library,” Shelton said.


Despite all the benefits the project will bring to the library it will take time. While the contractor can begin to mobilize material and equipment and make some exterior preparations, interior work requiring closure of the library is scheduled to start Aug. 20 and is expected to finish at the end of November.


Shelton said this period of time was selected because it was a “sweet spot” in the library’s calendar. The work begins after all the summer programs and school will have just begun. This period of time, he said, has the lowest number of attendance at the library. Additionally, it will be completed before the start of winter so pipes will be less likely to freeze.


Sullivan said the library staff is working to ensure the public continues to have access to a number of library programs and services.


Due to being on a different heating and cooling system, Sullivan said, the area on the east side of the library known as the “Zone” which houses the youth activity section will remain open to the public. She said staff will be located in this area to assist patrons with placing reserves, downloading e-books, and checking out reserved items. Additionally, Sullivan said limited computer access and printing will be offered in this area for public use. New books and magazines will also be on display and available for checkout.


She added the library’s app, Overdrive, can provide patrons with ebooks and audiobooks. Plus, Mesa Public Library offers another online service, hoopla, which allows patrons to stream music and videos, read books and browse comics in electronic formats.  


She added more computers will be offered at the White Rock Branch Library library staff will provide information on additional public computing resources in the community. More staff will be stationed at the White Rock branch as well.


Sullivan said library staff are striving to ensure regular programs will continue, too. She said staff are doing what has been a long-time wish, to take programs out into the community. For instance, Fuller Lodge is reserved for various children’s programs and the White Rock branch’s room has been reserved for programs, too.


Plus, a small lending library for children and youth is planned to be set up in one of the rooms at Fuller Lodge.


“We  are looking forward to getting out in the community more,” Sullivan said.


Staff will be on hand to help patrons utilize the library’s services on their various electronic devices and Sullivan said they plan to increase the frequency of book shuttles between the library in White Rock and Mesa Public Library for patron convenience.

Although nothing has been established yet, Sullivan said work is being done to develop a website or web page that will serve as a central location for all the information regarding the library’s various services and programs during the tenure of the project.

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