Olympia library readies for extended closure for renovations

The Olympia branch of Timberland Regional Library will close for more than a month starting in late November for renovations.

The library building on Eighth Avenue Southeast is owned by the city of Olympia, which is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the building. The city plans to install new carpet and paint, while the library, which is responsible for everything inside the building, will replace furniture and rearrange shelving.

The work is scheduled to happen Nov. 28 to Feb. 2, though officials hope to finish before that, said Morgan Sohl, the branch manager.

During the closure, shelves will be rearranged to make aisles compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and create more open seating spaces. New tables and chairs will replace some 40-year-old furniture.

Three services desks will also be consolidated into two in order to spread staff throughout the building and lessen congestion near the front entrance, Sohl said.

“Our goal is to maximize our space,” said Sohl, noting Olympia is the busiest branch in the system. “We’ve really found space is at a premium.”

Plans don’t involve removing any materials, just rearranging. Some Olympia branch staff could be moved temporarily to the Tumwater and Lacey branches, which are expected to see more visitors during the closure.

The plan is to keep part of the Olympia building open for library users to pick up items on hold and return items from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

But for people who depend on the library for a warm place to go in winter months, the closure comes at a bad time.

“It is a place that people go to use the computer, get warm, nap, use the Wi-Fi,” said Keylee Marineau, Thurston County’s homelessness coordinator, who said she learned of the closure late last month. “It will impact definitely the downtown core.”

She said county and city officials and social service providers are looking at ways to offset the impact. A city of Olympia spokeswoman said Timberland set the date for the renovations.

Sohl said the renovation has been in the works for years. The branch typically gets fewer visitors in the winter, and officials were hoping to capitalize on holiday closures.

“There isn’t a good time to close a library, so our goal is to do it as quickly as possible,” she said.

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