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Final touches going on Fayetteville library expansion

by Alex Golden | February 23, 2021 at 7:29 a.m.
Rachel Sabatini selects books with her son Cooper, 3, and daughter Maisyn, 1, Monday, February 22, 2021, inside the preschool area of the Fayetteville Public Library's new expanded area in Fayetteville. The newly expanded library reopened last month with some sections unavailable to the public because of the covid-19 pandemic. Check out nwaonline.com/210223Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The final touches are being put on the newly expanded Fayetteville Public Library.

It will likely take 30 to 60 days to complete small tasks, such as paint touch-ups, Sam Palmer, director of facilities, said Monday during a library Board of Trustees meeting.

"The kitchen continues to progress," he said. Most of the kitchen equipment is installed and done."

The teaching kitchen must also pass an inspection from the Health Department before it can open, Palmer said.

Groundwork on the library's 82,500-square-foot expansion began in July 2018, and a soft opening was held about a month ago. Construction costs and increased operations are to cost $50 million. The expanded library is a total of 170,500 square feet and includes a deli, event center and recording studio among other amenities.

The library is also wrapping up wiring for the recording studio, said David Johnson, library director.

"Everything is shaping up and I'm very, very pleased at this point," he said.

"I am in heavy discussion with Bryan and Bernice Hembree with Roots Festival about a series of concerts and events and other things. We're looking at the outdoor courtyard," Johnson said.

The Hembrees co-founded the Fayetteville Roots Festival, an annual music and food festival.

The pandemic closed the library from March to mid-May. It opened in a limited capacity before closing again in late September to finish the expansion. While it was closed, people could still check out material with curbside pickup.

Johnson said Monday he expects the curbside pickup service will be "with us for a very long time" as it has been popular.

The library will have an incremental approach to loosening some covid-19 restrictions in the coming weeks, Johnson said.

While the library is allowing up to 200 people in at one time, capacity has hovered around 120. That's likely because people don't have as many opportunities to stay at the library by using the meeting rooms, sitting at tables or using the computers, Johnson said.

The library will begin allowing patrons to schedule time to use some of the computers beginning next week.

"After a week or so of those, we're going to open the meeting rooms and allow people to reserve those. From that point, we're going to start removing some of those tabletop pieces to allow folks to stay in the library," Johnson said.

A De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is visible Monday, February 22, 2021 suspended from the ceiling inside the preschool area of the Fayetteville Public Library's new expanded area in Fayetteville. The newly expanded library reopened last month with some sections unavailable to the public because of the covid-19 pandemic. Check out nwaonline.com/210223Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)
A De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is visible Monday, February 22, 2021 suspended from the ceiling inside the preschool area of the Fayetteville Public Library's new expanded area in Fayetteville. The newly expanded library reopened last month with some sections unavailable to the public because of the covid-19 pandemic. Check out nwaonline.com/210223Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)
A section of the new teaching kitchen is visible Monday, February 22, 2021 inside an area of the Fayetteville Public Library's new expanded in Fayetteville. The newly expanded library reopened last month with some sections unavailable to the public because of the covid-19 pandemic. Check out nwaonline.com/210223Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)
A section of the new teaching kitchen is visible Monday, February 22, 2021 inside an area of the Fayetteville Public Library's new expanded in Fayetteville. The newly expanded library reopened last month with some sections unavailable to the public because of the covid-19 pandemic. Check out nwaonline.com/210223Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)

Alex Golden may be reached by email at agolden@nwadg.com.

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