In mid-October, the Hoquiam Timberland Library closed its doors to the public for some long-awaited repairs to the library. With a list of updates taking place, unexpected delays can arise. There is not a date set in stone as to a re-opening, but it is tentatively set for mid-December.
“Our latest guess is about December 11,” says Mary Thornton, library manager of the Hoquiam Timberland Library. “And that’s a guess because I don’t want to open until we have all of the electricity on and everyone says it’s safe to be in here, since that’s one of the major considerations of the renovation was safety.”
There had been plans set in motion for a renovation in 2013 and a state Community Development Block Grant was granted in 2014, but the city wanted to wait until there was enough money for the desired project before starting it. One of the funding resources is a capital budget appropriation and because a budget wasn’t passed last year in the legislature, the request didn’t go in until 2018, delaying the process.
The funding for the renovation ended up coming from a state Community Development Block Grant totaling $705,000, a capital budget appropriation totaling $250,000, and around $40,000 in other grants and donations by groups and individuals according to Hoquiam city administrator, Brian Shay, who is responsible for headlining the fundraising.
There have been dozens of small projects completed during the renovation on the interior of the building and the biggest change that patrons will notice right away is a new coat of paint and re-carpeting, giving the library an aesthetic boost. The crews that have been working on the updates have done everything from fixings dings in the walls, to checking for hazardous material as a result of leaks, to electrical work, to repairing plaster on the chimney and much more.
“They put up new lights,” Thornton says. “The old lights used 250 watts per bulb and the new lights use 4 watts per bulb, they’re all LEDs. And then they repaired all of the heat pumps, so we have eight heat pumps.”
There have been some snags along the way during the renovation, like finding an unusual method of electrical wiring on the newer side of the building that has delayed outlets being put in and also snags with the replacement of the doors.
“They’re replacing all of the doors because these are all wooden doors, except for the K Street doors that are metal and they have rusted out,” Thornton says. “The rest of the doors have started to disintegrate. We have an added complication in that we’re on the National Registry of Historic Places, so the doors have to be replicated. We can’t just throw doors in there.”
When it came to choosing what specifically needed to be repaired, they tried to take everything into account, from safety upgrades to cosmetic upgrades.
“The big things I wanted to concentrate on were safety, ADA, and energy efficiency because it’s so expensive for the city,” Thornton says. “This is all to make sure that the people of Hoquiam and other people who visit are getting their money’s worth out of the area.”
One of the most notable repairs on the outside of the property is the new sidewalk and ground entrances that were either worn or causing a potential hazard for patrons.
“We had nice looking sidewalks on 7th Street, but the trees had heaved them and they were a real dangerous spot,” Thornton says. “People were tripping and we had a few fairly serious accidents out there, so they took out the sidewalks and they re-poured those and then the entrances were getting so beat up that they took out both entrances and re-poured those.”
When the library was expanded in 1991, there were commemorative tiles outside and unfortunately, the tiles could not be saved as they were too fragile and cracked upon attempts to remove them without damage. Thornton did her best to take photos of the tiles and will happily send patrons their photo once she is able to organize them. The library does plan to put up a display of plaques to replace these.
Now that the renovation is well underway, the library staff has plans to begin working on new services and programs and they have also been working over the last year to reorganize the library to make it a warmer and more welcoming destination in Hoquiam.
“I think this will be a far better environment for our patrons and that the building was really beginning to look shabby and it really needed an upgrade,” Thornton says. “And also that the building has been preserved. It has a long history, it’s a unique building in Washington State, and it’s going to serve the people of Hoquiam for years to come now.”
For more details and photos of the renovation, visit the Hoquiam Timberland Library Facebook page. Keep an eye out for the soft opening and grand-reopening after the first of the year.