04/07/14 — Checking on Mount Olive library

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Checking on Mount Olive library

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 7, 2014 2:08 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Since November, Mount Olive residents have listened in anticipation as the sound of hammers and drills rang out from the interior of the old Belk building at Chestnut and Main.

And Steele Memorial head librarian Melanie Powell and the rest of the staff at the current library have been waiting for their new home.

"Everyone is excited here. A lot of the patrons that come in are excited, too," Ms. Powell said.

Inside the building, workers have erected walls and installed electrical and mechanical systems. Acrylic dome skylights provide splashes of the sun that light much of the area.

But there's plenty of work that still needs to be done. The exterior of the building, rebricked and enhanced, needs a few touch ups and cement still needs to be poured for benches and landscaping.

Inside, the crew from Jackson Builders waits for electricity to be hooked up to the building. Weather problems have slowed down Duke Energy's work to connect the building to the grid, and that has halted the construction team from turning on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Without a stable climate, the cement floor can't be dried out, and carpet can't be installed. The main doors and walls still have to be tested to deal with the air pressures of an HVAC system. So, for right now, the building remains dark, cold and damp. And that can mean possible delays. Kent Warren, vice president of Jackson Builders, estimates that the building will be ready to be turned over to the county in mid-May. In the next two weeks, the final schedule for the library's eventual opening should be announced.

Until then, the library staff is planning for contingencies. Wayne County Public Library administrators are looking at holding the annual Steele Memorial Library summer programs for children at both the standard spot, the Mount Olive Train Depot, and potentially at the larger space of the new library. Wayne County Public Library Director Donna Phillips is hoping that at least a portion of the summer programs will be held in the new space.

Library officials are also working on budget requests to be presented to the county to be able to expand staff and programming at Steele Memorial. Mrs. Phillips said she plans on putting three staffing plans before the county -- one that would plan to keep the library open one night a week, another that would plan for the library to be open two nights a week and a final plan that would have Steele Memorial Library's hours reflect Goldsboro Library's hours, or open four nights a week.

Library director Donna Phillips said that at this time, the new library will have to have at least three librarians to head up the main desk, the children's department and the teen department as well as support staff.

The county library's tech services, which is currently housed in Goldsboro, would move down to a room at Steele.

The use of radio frequency identification technology could help remove the need for more librarians at check-outs. Each book at Steele is currently being incorporated into a system of self-checkout, comparable to self-checkout lanes at grocery stores, where library visitors can scan their own items. It's a system, Mrs. Phillips said, that community members will have to get used to.

The final goal, however, is to have a library in the southern end of Wayne County that can offer everything that the Goldsboro Library can, Mrs. Phillips said.