Washington Memorial Library targeted for renovations

Macon and Bibb County’s flagship library, Washington Memorial, will soon get its first thorough renovation in three decades.

Thomas Jones, director of the Macon-Bibb County Public Libraries, said the library may have to close for up to a week for the work to be completed. Construction could begin in about two months, as workers replace carpets and lights and repaint parts of the library.

All the carpet will be replaced, including the worst-condition areas in the children’s room and the elevators. That will make the library more inviting and safe, Jones said.

“It was put in the building in 1978 during the remodeling,” he said. “It’s just so shopworn it’s definitely in need of replacement.”

The Washington Memorial Library will benefit because of the under-budget construction of the new Charles A. Lanford M.D. Library in south Bibb County. About $454,000 remains from the $2.5 million in county bonds and $2.5 million in grant money used to build the Lanford Library.

“They kind of lucked out coming in under budget,” said Sam Kitchens, Bibb County’s director of buildings and properties, who is helping advise the project.

The most expensive item is the new carpeting. County commissioners last week approved a $309,000 contract for the carpet and the installation. Jones said installers will fit the carpet tiles around the existing bookcases so the books don’t have to be moved. Much of the work may be able to be done at night, though the library is closed only from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., leaving less time for after-hours work than most businesses.

Other work will touch up the paint and replace many of the light fixtures to save money on electric bills. More efficient bulbs will be installed on the second floor, which has newer light fixtures.

Jones said the library board hasn’t yet decided whether it will need to close the library to allow the work to proceed. Traffic typically slows down around December, when many people are on vacation, he said, so disruptions could be minimized then.

Washington Memorial Library typically has about 400,000 visitors each year.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.