Library Could Be Closed Up to Four Months for Early 2008 Renovations

Cracks in the masonry walls of the historic Elaine I. Sprauve Library will be fixed while the building undergoes a major renovation. St. John Tradewinds News Photo by Eliza Magro

The Elaine I. Sprauve Library may be closed for up to four months while the historic building is renovated in early 2008.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums is planning to move the books and other resources to another location in order to keep them available to the public during the project.

Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums Acting Director Donald Cole, along with DPNR Assistant Commissioner Claudette Lewis, project architect Spencer Brown Jr., a representative from the Historic Preservation Commission and representatives from Custom Builders — one of the contractors who picked up a bid package for the project — met last week at the library to tour the facility and go over renovation plans.

“We walked through, looked at the work that is going to be done, and got the contractors comfortable with the building and the work that’s going to be performed,” said Cole. “We went over the architectural and refurbishing design, so they can put their final bid in.”

Three to Four Month Project
Two St. John contractors also picked up bid packages for the project, however the St. John DPNR office could not verify the names of those companies. Bids are due to the Department of Property and Procurement by October 18. Cole anticipates work will begin in January 2008, and hopes it won’t take more than four months, he explained.

“I can’t get into a specific timetable, but I don’t want it to take more than three or four months,” said Cole.
The historic building will need to be closed due to the nature of the work being done, Cole explained.

“I know for sure that everything is going to have to be moved out of the library, and I have to get a commitment from the department regarding opening a temporary library at the Battery,” he said. “If that’s not feasible, we’ll look to find someplace we can rent for a period of time.

“We want to be able to still serve the public in some small capacity,” Cole said.

A total of $906,000 has been appropriated for the library renovations, according to Government House spokesperson Jean Greaux.

The libraries division has already spent $18,000 of that appropriation on architectural fees, explained Cole.

“We’re going to fix the cracks, air condition the building, paint and sand, revarnish and repaint the floors,” said Cole. “Basically it’s going to be a total overhaul of the building.”

In a subsequent proposal, the grounds will eventually be fenced in, and more parking spaces will be created for patrons and staff.

Renovations at the Elaine I. Sprauve Library, which dates back to the mid-1700s, will be done under the supervision of the Historic Preservation Commission.

“We want to make sure it looks like a real historical building,” said Cole. “That’s what the governor wants — when you look at it, you’ll know it’s something special.”

While the project has unsuccessfully gone out to bid before, Cole said he believes the project will be completed this time around.
“I definitely think this is going to come to fruition,” said Cole. “By the middle of 2008 at the latest, this library will be completed.”

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