The Catlettsburg branch of the Boyd County Public Library isn’t any bigger now than when it was closed for remodeling.
It just looks that way.
Visitors to the newly remodeled branch Thursday saw how skillful use of space can make a small room look like a big one, and how lighting, windows and furniture placement can change a cramped, old-fashioned reading room into an airy, multi-purpose destination for reading, computer use and cultural programs.
“It’s the same footprint, but it looks like double the space,” said director Debbie Cosper. “The architects looked at the space differently and made it useful.”
Cosper and her staff showed off the branch during an open house to mark the reopening. the branch had been closed since September 2012.
The branch has the same amount of shelf space, but about half of that is in wheeled bookcases that can be moved to accommodate other uses. Also in the open floor plan in the main reading room are tables for six public computers and a children’s corner along with the checkout desk, which has been repositioned to the side opposite the front door.
The children’s area has a low round table with kid-sized stools that are big enough and sturdy enough for parents too, and an easy chair chosen because it is big enough for a parent and child to sit in together.
Among the chief differences is the lighting, Cosper said. New fixtures are better, more energy-efficient and quieter, eliminating the tell-tale fluorescent hum, and light-blocking ductwork that had been suspended from the ceiling has been moved behind walls.
“It makes it look like we raised the ceiling,” Cosper said.
The rear third of the building includes a meeting room for 25 and a staff work room.
Air conditioning units were moved to the roof from street level; that added interior space because large trash containers that had been stored inside could be moved to where the air units had been.
“It was very closed-in before, and now it’s open. It’s phenomenal what can be done when you take a space and make a few changes,” said library board member Yvonne Cubbison.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Catlettsburg Mayor Randall Peterman. “Some of our older people like having a place to sit and read and read the papers,” he said.
Peterman hopes the remodeling will inspire other downtown building owners to spruce up their properties.
The remodeling cost about $230,000, including all new furnishings.
The Catlettsburg branch will keep a small permanent collection and reserve much of its shelf space for high-demand volumes, Cosper said. The branch also will add more community programming.
Patrons who want lower-demand items can order it; if it is in the library’s permanent collection at another branch it can be at Catlettsburg within 48 hours and the interlibrary loan system can access books from other libraries.
There is another reason for celebration, she said. A week ago the library received notice from the state that it has been rated exemplary, the highest of three standards ratings.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2652.