Major renovations set to begin at Richmond public libraries

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You will soon notice some big changes to your library experience in Richmond. The city is spending millions of dollars to bring the nine branches into the twenty-first century.

It's day one of a three year project to transform every single library in the city of Richmond, into a new experience.

Soon these books will be packed up and the old shelves will go away--- temporarily. It's news that patron Whitney Rodgers couldn't be happier.

"Definitely a good thing. They need to get some of the cob webs out of the windows!," exclaims Rodgers.

The libraries in the city were built between the 1950's and 1980's. "That was before computers, so none of our libraries are set up for the technology of today," said Harriet Coalter, the Richmond Public Libraries Director.

So soon new computers will dock on these desks, especially important since about 50% of people using these computers are looking for jobs, including Whitney.

"I was going to go onto Snag-aJ-Job and see if any new jobs have been posted," said Whitney.

And there's more coming: new shelves will hold up the books and the buildings will, too, become energy efficient.

"You'll have family readying spaces for children to come to and you'll have a much better layout," said Coalter.

In all, the city is spending more than $9 million to renovate all of it's libraries. But, before the renovations can begin, library staff must take an inventory of all these books and materials. That will end up closing losing both the Westover Hills and North Avenue Libraries for one day: Westover on Tuesday, January 26 and North Avenue on Tuesday, February 2.

"I hope it does a 360 really, a new, whole transformation," added Rodgers.

Full renovations will start at Westover Hills and the North Avenue Libraries between April and May, shutting down the libraries during the construction.

"Public libraries tend to be an anchor in the community. People look to them and say, that's a place for everyone to go," said Coalter.

Now White hopes the new library will stack up with the best.

The work at each library should take about 6 months and during that time, you will be able to use any of the other city libraries. Once the work is done at Westover Hills and North Avenue, the work will start at the Belmont and Hull Street branches.

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