‘Exciting’ Renovation Process Underway at Warren Public Library

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WARREN, Pa. – Warren Public Library Communication and Outreach Librarian Julie Miller calls it ‘a labor of love.’

Library Director Kelli Knapp said ‘it’s been a long-time coming.’

What they’re referring to is the renovations that are taking place that officially began this month at the library.

What started out as an impetus for a new teen space has turned into a full-fledged renovation, and it’s finally here.

“When I first started as director in 2017, one of the first things on my agenda was let’s see what we can do about getting a good teen space in here,” Knapp said. “As we were going to apply for the teen space grant, we decided that there were other things that needed to be done in the library that were very important.”

The teen space expanded to what it is now, and it’s a lot.

The basement of the Warren Public Library, a space that is going to become the new ‘teen space.’

“We have so many different improvements going on, that at least one of them is going to affect everybody who walks in the doors,” Knapp said.

In addition to the teen space, there will be air conditioning installed, an upgrade to the infrastructure, and other changes, including moving the Friends of the Library Book Cellar to the main level across from the circulation desk, as well as installing new LED lighting.

There will also be Americans With Disabilities Act upgrades, which will include push-button entry doors.

There will also be meeting pods installed, which will fit two to four people, with benches and lightning, for things like a small meeting, an online exam, and things of that nature. The Jefferson Room will also be getting an upgrade. I

The grant application was originally due in April of 2020, and even with COVID, the library got everything approved. By the time they met the Keystone grant requirements regarding the bidding, they didn’t go out for bid until spring of 2021.

“We ended up having to go to bid for this project three times,” Knapp said citing a variety of factors, including COVID, contractors not having enough workers, and the cost of materials going up.

“In the spring, summer, and the last round in November,” Miller added, with approval finally coming the day before Thanksgiving.

All-tolled, the project cost is about $1.7 million, about $400,000 over cost.

“Because we had raised the funds to cover the initial cost, we had to raise more funds, and fortunately we’ve had the community step up and help us with that. They’ve been wonderful,” Knapp said.

“The staff has been fabulous,” Knapp added. “They’ve been exceptional.’

The teen space will be big, and it will be located in the basement, and there will be a maker space across the hall from the team space, which is basically a space where you learn to do things.

“Every time I go down in the basement, my heart starts fluttering, because it’s like ‘oh my gosh,’ this teen space is going to be phenomenal,” Knapp said. “It’s going to be one of the best in the state.”

Added Miller: “There was always stuff to do when you were a kid. And when you became a teen, there was still some stuff to do, but it was really, you come in and get a book and leave. Now, the teens are going to have a space they can call their own.”

In the teen space, among other things, there will be a computer use area, a meeting area, a lounge area, a kitchenette, as well as a place for those who want to practice digital photography or coding, and many other opportunities.

The basement of the Warren Public Library, where an extensive renovation project has begun.

You can learn more by visiting the library website as well.

“It will be just so much more pleasant in the lower level,” Knapp said.

Knapp did note that the library will have to close periodically throughout the process.

“We are going to make sure that that is as infrequent as we possibly can,” Knapp said. W

The target date for completion is the fall of 2022.

“Now that it’s finally happening, it’s really exciting,” Knapp said. “When it’s all done, we’ll have a grand opening at some point.