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Catherine Norko, director of the Charles W. Gibson Library, attended the April 20 Buckhannon City Council meeting to announce the planned changes and upgrades.

Gibson Library to undergo large-scale renovations; Open house set for April 25

BUCKHANNON – The Charles W. Gibson Library will undergo several large-scale renovations in the coming months.

Catherine Norko, director of the Charles W. Gibson Library, attended the April 20 Buckhannon City Council meeting to announce the planned changes and upgrades.

“Since 1941, we have served Buckhannon in our current building. We’ve made some modifications over the years, but services have changed a great deal over that time,” Norko said. “Over the last couple of years, library use has changed quite a bit, but overall, the trends have remained mostly the same.”

She said the Charles Gibson Library has always been a community hub for programs and information and has given people a quiet place to study and browse the internet.

“In the last year, we’ve seen an increase of 15% in our checkouts 21% in printing and copying, 60% in the number of people who are coming in the door, and 72% in the number of people who are using our computers, which I could not believe was that high,” Norko said. “We also offer several programs now; we do a weekly story time, and we have a monthly book discussion.”

The library staff hopes the upcoming renovation will modernize their building, allowing them to expand their space and more effectively support their programs.

“We hope to improve by adding some space for collections, possibly parking and programming – we’re looking at a possible angled parking section on Sedgwick Street,” Norko said. “We need a few more planning meetings to get that looked at, but we’re hoping we can make parking easier at the library because I know a couple of patrons who will park and walk from the Bicentennial because they have a parking lot.”

They are hoping the new parking lot will provide about eight new spaces versus their current four to five.

“We have the main building renovation, which is long overdue,” Norko said. “We’ve been in our building for 81 years, and we still have the original plumbing in most of the building. We would like to look at a few updates to our electrical and plumbing and some sort of replacement for the windows to make them a little more energy-efficient. Right now, all we’ve got is a single pane of glass to keep the weather out and most of the windows have at least a slight crack on them from where they were designed to open.”

The entrance to the library is also going to be rotated, and they hope to make the last of their three bathrooms ADA-compliant.

“Last but not least, we have an addition for the back of the building, which includes a Children’s Department, because we took that out for our main desk,” Norko said. “It will be a multipurpose space, which we can use for short meetings and programming. I think it was even suggested that we could also fill it up with books if we get desperate.”

City Council member CJ Rylands asked if there was anything the library board needed from council.

“I think right now we just wanted to make sure you guys are OK with what we are doing because we are hesitant to commit ourselves to a plan and then have you guys say, ‘Oh no, you need to do this first.’” Norko said.

Mayor Robbie Skinner said the library board does not need the council’s approval to move forward with their plans.

“The city council appoints members to the library board, but for this project, you would not have to seek our approval,” Skinner said. “The city has a library levy that has been successful for many, many years, so those monies pass through the city, but it goes to the library board to make decisions to improve the physical [infrastructure], the books and the technology that is there.”

Norko also invited city council to attend an open house at the Gibson Library, on April 25 scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m., in honor of National Library Week.

Charles W. Gibson Public Library
Charles W. Gibson Public Library

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