ANDERSON — For the staff of the Anderson Public Library, it must seem like buying a Christmas present in July and then having to wait for the unwrapping.

The Anderson Public Library recently completed a $2.5 million remodeling of the main floor. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the public has not been able to use all the amenities.

The library moved into the former Sears store in downtown Anderson at 111 E. 12th St. in 1987 and remodeling took place in 2000.

The second floor was remodeled in 2017 at a cost of $500,000.

Sarah Later, the library’s director, said that right now the library is offering patrons services in a get-and-go manner.

In addition to brighter LED lighting, new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint, the library has moved the circulation desk to the center of the main entrance, and the teen room has been expanded.

The remodeling includes a creative lab, small study rooms and a meeting room on the main floor.

“I want people coming back here,” Later said. “Right now our main concern is keeping the public and our staff safe.”

New furniture for the main level has been delivered but not available to the public because of the pandemic and the need for social distancing.

“The comments from the public have been very positive,” Later said of the remodeling. “People say on a daily basis how much the library has changed.

“I want people to see it the way it’s supposed to be,” she said about the finished work.

Gene Roop said he uses the library regularly.

“It’s certainly open,” he said of the new look. “It’s nice in that regard. The reading areas are open and that is welcome.”

Roop said that, as required due to the pandemic, he has been placing books on hold and then picking them up.

“Anderson has a wonderful library,” he said. “I’m surprised and pleased that Anderson has this good a library.”

Another regular visitor, Sherika Clark, was using a computer at the library in her search for employment.

“It’s remarkable,” Clark said of the remodeling. “It’s pretty open.”

Clark said she wasn’t aware the remodeling was taking place but commented it was a “good job.”

On the third floor, the work underway includes carpeting and paint to match the main floor, and the meeting rooms are being upgraded.

Ashton Bennett, program and marketing manager, said the creative lab is meant to be a “maker space” within the library.

“We want to encourage new talent and expand creativity,” she said. “We want more learning opportunities and promote creativity in the community.”

Bennett said people from the local business community will be involved in the maker space.

“We’re looking to expand digital technology and promote robotic skills,” she said.

The library is offering virtual programming, Bennett said. Programs are being offered through Zoom and recorded programs that are published on Facebook.

The library is providing virtual book talks and digital resource assistance to local schools in Anderson and Lapel.

“We have virtually visited several classes at ACS to provide ongoing or single-session instruction to students and teachers about how to use their Student Digital Cards,” Bennett said.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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