Windsor Library taking shape

Published 11:16 am Monday, September 18, 2017

WINDSOR – The wait will soon be over.

That’s the consensus as crates and boxes of materials are being unloaded daily at the temporary site of the Windsor (formerly Lawrence Memorial) Library.  The new location for the site is a former vacant storefront located in the Food Lion Shopping Center at Windsor Square just off King Street and US-17 Bypass.

This same site served as a temporary location for the Windsor Post Office when it was closed due to storm damage from Hurricane Matthew. Windsor Square, LLC of Greenville owns the shopping center complex and they negotiated with Bertie County on an extended month lease agreement.

The Lawrence Memorial Library, which served the Windsor area, was formerly housed on Dundee Street, but Hurricane Matthew in October of last year became the fifth storm to flood that location in the past 19 years. After several months of scouting locations, the shopping center site, which had been home to several businesses over the last nine years, was finally selected and the county sought to enter into a lease agreement for the building.

Computer monitors await installation at the site of the temporary library.

At its Nov. 7, 2016 meeting, the Bertie County Commissioners discussed a new construction and location of both the Library and the county’s Cooperative Extension offices.

Of paramount concern to the Commissioners was the lack of public library services locally, the re-deployment of staff to other regional facilities and the continued expenditure of utilities for a vacant facility to prevent further moisture related damage.

“The lease documents for the temporary library space were signed by the County and the landlord as of July 25, and painting and carpeting are now complete,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer.  “As you may recall, many years ago this office space was used by the State Employees Credit Union and all of the glass office panels had to be disassembled and removed.  Then, the wall surfaces were patched and repaired before the painting could begin.”

Albemarle Regional Library Director Jennifer Patterson revealed there’s still a lot of work yet to be done beyond packing and unpacking.

“We really appreciate the county from providing us with a temporary location,” Patterson said. “We’re shooting for late October, early November, as our grand re-opening, but I don’t want to pin down an exact date until I’m certain when we can have our ribbon-cutting.”

Patterson says she hopes the new location will attract more library patrons.

“By our hoped-for opening time the library will have been closed now for over a year,” she noted. “And now we’re in a location that is ideally suited to attract new patrons.  In a shopping center you may not be specifically coming to go to the library, but when you see it’s there we want you to want to stop by and look in.  You may be going to Family Dollar but end up going to just about every shop in the shopping center.”

Passers-by may have noticed a semi tractor-trailer parked in front of the shopping center building. In addition to DVD’s, books and audio books, furniture and shelving components have been also been delivered to the site.

“I am grateful to Tim Phelps for his assistance with storage and transportation of materials, especially in the initial aftermath of the flood events last fall,” Sauer continued.

Sauer said some county personnel are assisting with the re-location. Maintenance Director Anthony Rascoe is scheduling his staff to assist with the assembly.

“As you can see, assembly of the shelving is a tedious and time consuming task, mostly due to the fact that these shelving units were custom fitted to the old library facility,” the County Manager acknowledged, “and please remember there are no instructions with this stuff!”

Also, once the shelving units are assembled they will have to be anchored to the floor and walls.

Patterson said Windsor Branch Manager Nancy Hughes is at the site on a daily basis as she organizes the set up and installation.

“She was Branch Manager before and she will remain in that capacity,” Patterson confirmed. “But everyone else will be new.  There will be another full-time library assistant and there will be a 25-hour position and a 15-hour position that we will start advertising for next week on our Facebook page, or they can stop by any ARL location to receive an application.”

“Over the next few weeks the shelving will go up,” she explained. “We’ve ordered some replacement furniture for some things to go in, and then we have to unpack some 2,200 boxes, set up our genealogy room, and library materials that are still in storage will have to be processed and organized once the boxes arrive and are unpacked.”

Unfortunately, both agree this will be a lengthy process and this work will extend through the month of October.

“Fortunately, our genealogy collection is fine,” Patterson noted. “Our biggest losses (due to flood damage) were in books and DVD’s and things that can be replaced.  We actually received monies from our flood insurance which we will be using to replace those things, and we also received two grants: the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant and a $50,000 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) that will be used to purchase books and computers that were damaged during the floods.

“Both the Coretta Scott King and the LSTA grants could not have come at a better time,” said Patterson.

Sauer said Bertie County Finance Director William Roberson successfully completed the FEMA project worksheet approval process, and FEMA has obligated funding in the amount of $83,507 to offset the first year of operating expenses to include facility renovations, lease payments, utilities and replacement of a few furniture items.

Patterson and Hughes are scheduled to make a brief presentation at the Bertie County Commissioners’ regular meeting at 4 p.m. on Monday Sept. 18.