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Auburn Library renovation is on schedule

Construction continues at the Auburn Library. The renovated, larger library is expected to open later this year.  - Charles Cortes/Auburn Reporter
Construction continues at the Auburn Library. The renovated, larger library is expected to open later this year.
— image credit: Charles Cortes/Auburn Reporter

It's been more than six months since the Auburn Library closed its doors for renovation. And with six months left before the new space opens in August, library staff is eager to move out of their temporary space.

"We're a little squished right now, but otherwise the patrons have been flexible, patient and pretty darn cooperative. The staff are troopers," said Carla Hopkins, who manages the Auburn, Muckleshoot and Algona-Pacific Library cluster for the King County Library System.

Since the beginning of June, the Auburn Library has operated in a temporary space across the parking lot from the established library in the old Herr Cabinets building at 1140 Auburn Way S.

Although the temporary space has offered basic services – including book ordering and a limited inventory of DVDs and books for children and adults – the space is much smaller than the main library and offers limited online connectivity.

"The patrons have been receptive but it is a smaller place," Hopkins said. "In the old library, people had one to two hours they could spend on the computers, or they could bring their own laptops or check out one of ours. Here, we're limited by our Internet connectivity. Wi-Fi is not available, and they only have a half-hour on the computers. So that's been kind of hard on folks."

Despite being advised to use other nearby KCLS libraries, Hopkins said many of the Auburn Library's regulars are still coming in.

"It's the same folks who we're used to seeing," she said. "For the most part, people are sharing the warm space and doing well."

According to King County Facilities Manager Greg Smith, the bulk of the work on the new library – which was funded by a $172 million capital bond issue voted on by King County residents – is going according to schedule, with most of the exterior work completed.

"We're at 90-percent steel erected, and we're starting the interior framing," he said.

Crews also began work this week on the electrical system for the building.

"We're on schedule for a substantial completion by the contractor in mid-May," Smith added.

He explained that once completed, all that would be left is to finish work on the inside of the building and transfer the libraries' materials and equipment.

"We don't anticipate opening the library before August," Smith said.

Once completed, patrons can expect many changes to the library, tantamount being the increase in size.

"It's bigger, 5,000 square feet larger," Smith said. "It will be a lot more visible. There is much more glass. You'll be able to see in and out of the building. The entry will be more open and inviting, and we've relocated the restrooms."

Smith explained that the restrooms, which used to be off the main entry way, will be moved to a different corner of the building.

In addition, the library will feature state-of-the-art automated materials equipment, which will allow patrons to check out materials themselves, and more wireless capacity, which will allow more patrons to hook up to the Internet with their own laptops.

For Hopkins and the rest of the library staff, many of whom are working at other libraries until the new space is completed, anticipation is high for the opening of the new library.

"We're just counting down the months until the new library opens and we can move in and have a celebration," she said.

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