Library renovations making progress

The spiral staircases at the Gloversville Public Library are shown covered to protect them from any construction debris. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

GLOVERSVILLE — Among the construction dust and sounds of power drills, Gloversville Public Library Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Elizabeth Batchelor and Christine Pesses stood surveying the ongoing work inside the library on Wednesday.

Framing has been put up for new walls, and duct work has been installed along the ceilings. New fittings for the heating and cooling systems was being put into place and workers were busy checking on the new plumbing lines that were installed.

“It really is exciting,” Batchelor said as she looked around the room, hard hat on.

The library began a total restoration project at it’s permanent location on East Fulton Street in spring 2017. This is the first major renovation project at the library since its opening in the early 20th century. Planning for this renovation started eight years ago and included a number of steps from design to approval.

The library, which opened in 1905, was funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s library program. The library was constructed of a cream-colored limestone base with tan brick and was constructed in a beaux arts architecture style that was popular in the 19th century.

A look at the work being done on the front of the Gloverville Public Library is shown on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

During the lead up to the construction, the library ran a successful Capital Campaign that has raised more than $8 million, including $4.8 million in grants, including a $2 million one obtained by former state Sen. Hugh T. Farley a few months before his retirement.

A $1.1 million state Consolidated Funding Application grant awarded in December was the first awarded to a library in the state. In May, state Sen. James Tedisco announced a $223,878 grant for the project.

The library is currently housed in its temporary space at the Fulton County for Regional Growth facility at 34 W. Fulton Street.

The renovation project will not alter the historic character of the building. The intricate details work on the exterior, spiral cases and woodwork will remain. The only thing historic that has to be removed is the 1900s boiler that has been heating the building. The historic half-round windows on the third floor will stay, along with the ornate woodwork.

Otherwise, the layout of the building will undergo a major overhaul.

The main desk will be moved to the left side so it can be seen from both entrances. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

In the basement, a former storage area is being transformed into a space for children and teenagers.

Batchelor said that the ceiling in that area will be designed to look like a cloud. A bank of “greenhouse windows” will be installed along the backside to allow in natural light. The children’s space will feature a section dedicated to crafts including the installation of a sink.

What was once the fiction section on the main floor will be turned into the new computer space. A reading nook and space being created for adult crafts is being created.

The main desk is being moved to the left, near the wall that once separated the fiction and non-fiction sections. Batchelor said this will allow those entering from either side to be seen and greeted by library staff.

New meeting rooms have been created out of the former children’s room. Half of the former computer room is being used as a meeting space and the other will house the historic collection that was on the second level.

Upstairs, additional meeting spaces are being installed, along with a new space for employees, including a kitchen. The stacks will be moved upstairs to the third floor. In order to accommodate that move, new pillars have been installed to handle the increased weight of the stacks.

In total, seven bathrooms have been created, one for each floor and an employee only one, and a new sprinkler system has been put in place. The sprinkler system was required since the renovation means the library is no longer grandfathered in on regulations. In order the keep the spiral staircase, the sprinklers needed to be installed.

The library has been updated with new wiring, ensuring that it will be able to handle the current and future needs as technology evolves.

“[Library Director Barbara Madonna] has gone through every room to make sure that there are outlets where she thinks we are going to need these things,” Batchelor said.

Pesses said that previously there were rooms with only one or two outlets installed.

The structure for the new elevator is underway. The structure for the main shaft has been installed and the process of walling off where it will do is underway.

The elevator the library ordered will be a “90 degree” one, which means that there will be a door facing the southside and another facing the west side of the building.

In order to meet the needs of Historic Preservation requirements, the an additional tower will be constructed on the other side, since everything new must be symmetrical.

The layout of the parking lot will also be changed during construction. Drivers will enter into the lot by the East Fulton Street entrance and exit onto Fremont Street.

The library will also have an annex lot on the other side of the Fulton County Probation Office. It is currently being used as a staging area for the construction project but will later be converted to a staff and overflow parking lot.

Pesses said the design idea behind the renovation was for the library to become more flexible, with various spaces for different uses. She said the elevator is an important key to the flexibility, allowing every patron to access the various floors of the library.

The library is also getting air conditioning installed, which means it can be a cooling station during heat waves.

Much of what was removed will be reused in the project. Old doors will be reused in new places and wood that was removed will find a new home elsewhere.

Both Pesses and Batchelor said there have been no major issues during the construction. Pesses said there were no major surprises in the renovation.

Pesses said there were some find that were made during construction that helped move construction along.

“So far there have been things we didn’t expect, there were wonderful things we found that were a boon, but there is nothing that has lead the project askew,” Batchelor said.

Batchelor said the main construction portion is anticipated to be completed by August.

“It will be this year for sure,” she said.

Once that is done, everything will be reviewed by an architect and project manager to make sure it meets the standards set. That process could take several weeks.

Batchelor said moving back in will be a process since everything will be laid out in a different way. New furniture, including built ins, will be installed. Pesses said the library could be closed for about three weeks as the move happens between the temporary and permanent centers.

“Moving into the small space was one thing — Barb had it all figured out mathematically. But this is new and nothing is going back where it was,” Batchelor said. “It’s a whole new plan. Once they finish the building, there is also the furniture that comes in. Some of the furniture is built in place.”

After that is complete, the library will begin the two to three week process of moving everything back into the library with a potential reopening date of October.

“We thought it was going to take months and months and months, but they said no, this is going to take a year,” Batchelor said.

Kerry Minor can be reached at