By Kevin Kelley
In November, Westlake Porter Public Library launched a $600,000 renovation project, half of which was funded by donations and half by the permanent improvement fund of the organization’s budget.
A major component of the project is the replacement of carpeting along the main corridors. The carpeting shows significant dirt and wear from the half-million visitors who have used the facility since it reopened 13 years ago after a major expansion and renovation, noted Porter Director Andrew Mangels.
While the renovation project will not result in wholesale changes to the library, it will improve how new books or other materials are displayed, Mangels said. He added that sight lines now blocked by librarians’ desks and tall shelves will also be improved.
Children will likely be the library users who notice the changes the most. The pre-schoolers area is being largely revamped. The Grandma’s Attic play space will be replaced with a new, city-skyline-themed play area that will retain some former activity areas. And Christina’s Corner, an alcove named after Christina Ryook, a Westlake High graduate who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, has been painted and updated.
Now hidden behind plastic sheets, the revamped pre-schoolers area will reopen in early January, Mangels said.
Improvements will also be made to the youth services and young adult areas.
Another area featured prominently in the renovation is the Reading Room, which patrons may know as the magazine room. Periodicals will be moved to shelves on the walls of the room so that newly published books can be displayed in the center. New furniture will also be added.
But even more new books will be displayed at the intersection of the two main wings of the library, where the information desk now sits.
“The new books will be in the center of the library,” Mangels explained.
The information and popular materials desks will be combined into a single, centralized service desk at the center of the library.
Mangels said the entire renovation project should be completed by the beginning of March.
While the work phase of the project will last five months, library leaders spent about a year planning the improvements.
“We spent months with the architect,” Mangels said of the time with HBM Architects, a Cleveland-based firm.
The Friends of Westlake Porter Public Library funded approximately 10 percent of the renovation project, Mangels noted.
The 852-square-foot space formerly used as a cafe, located to the left in the library lobby, will continue to be used as a meeting room for the foreseeable future, Mangels said. Pulleys Cafe at Porter closed at the end of 2014; since then, no vendors have shown interest in operating a cafe there, Mangels told West Life. Library leaders will likely revisit the use of that room once the renovation project is completed, he said.
In a separate project this March, all light bulbs in the library will be replaced with energy-saving LED bulbs. That project, which will cost $116,000, will be funded through the library’s permanent improvement fund. Mangels said the return on investment through reduced utility costs is expected within three years.