Rodger Charles, librarian at Peabody Township Library, has been just about the loneliest guy in town since the library embarked on a major overhaul to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Actually, the project will finish within the framework of the time projected in the bid,” Charles said. “We re-opened Tuesday and will maintain regular hours now. There are a few loose ends to pull together, but it is essentially complete.”
The project included a new exterior sidewalk with ramp access to facilitate accessibility to the new door on the north side of the building. A push button on a post opens the door and allows using a wheelchair, walker, or scooter to enter a lift. The lift will carry the patron downstairs to an event in the Ann Potter room or upstairs to the library itself.
“We are hoping this will increase the amount of use we get in the downstairs meeting room,” Charles said. “Obviously, the old original design of the building was not created to accommodate anyone who had trouble getting around.”
Even the original front entrance created a barrier with two sets of stairs to be navigated to gain entry.
Another new feature of the lower level of the library is an ADA compliant restroom.
“The restroom even has hot water from the sink,” Charles said. “For the first time in its existence the library will have hot water.”
Charles said the township had been setting money aside for three or four years to save enough to get the project completed. The library board approved cashing in a couple of certificates of deposit and received some small grants from the North Central Kansas Library System as well as donations from local people.
“None of them were huge, but all of them were appreciated,” he said.
The bid the library board accepted was for $108,000 by Regier Construction in Newton.
“It is coming in right at the bid,” Charles said. “There have been a few bumps in the road, but nothing major. Considering the complexity, it has actually gone along quite smoothly.”
A new stairway has been installed along the north wall from the children’s area down to the basement hallway. Wood trim and framing from the original stairway and doors were re-used to preserve the original look typical to the Carnegie library buildings.
“One thing we discovered, however, was that there were two tried and true tools that appear on just about every construction job, that weren’t very effective in this building,” Charles said. “The construction foreman, Eldon Esau, discovered that using a level and a square on this old building were really not much help. There just wasn’t much that actually was level or square.”
Charles and the library board are hoping to celebrate the project’s completion with a “grand re-opening” in January.
He hopes to be able to include the unveiling of the 100-year-old World War I painting dedicated to the men from Peabody who served. It has been cleaned and a preservationist in Wichita is now working to repair a few damaged spots on the ornate frame.
“After she is finished, we hope to get a weekend of good weather when we can go pick it up, get it back into the library, and hang it on the wall once again,” Charles said.
“We are proud of the work that has been done and think it will help keep this library around for years to come,” Charles said. “I’d like for people to come in and visit us and see the improvements. We are open for business once more.”