The Hancock County Public Library system plans to close the Lewisport branch facility on May 8, 2021 to prepare for the move to the new location across the street. The staff asks residents to return all items to the branch location by May 10.
Hancock County Library Director Tina Snyder says she expects the new facility to open the first week of June of this year. When the building opens, it ends a three-year long process to open a new facility in Lewisport. “The original completion date was scheduled for April 11, 2021,” Snyder said. “The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project.”
Snyder said the pandemic sometimes made it difficult to receive the necessary building supplies on time. In addition, some of the workers on the crews building the library contracted the virus, and work stopped for a couple of days at a time to deal with that particular situation.
“ We are still in the process of finishing the project,” Snyder said. “We will have the last inspection next week.”
When the inspectors finish looking over the facility, they will issue a temporary certificate of occupancy. This allows the staff to start the moving process.
“We can move things in,” Snyder said. “But we cannot have the public in there doing anything.”
The current branch facility occupies half of the city of Lewisport municipal building. At one time, this area of the building housed the Lewisport Volunteer Fire Department, but became vacant once the new fire station opened in the last 1990s.
The library system moved the branch into this space in the early 2000s from a small room on the side of the Lewisport Community center. The library occupied this section of the Lewisport municipal building for approximately 15 years, but simply outgrew the space.
“We wanted to have a larger area for doing programs for all ages—children to adults,” Snyder said. “We wanted to have individual spaces for each age group.”
Like the current branch, the new facility contains a space for teenagers. It also contains a space for kids fifth grade and younger, and also for adults.
With the Internet becoming more essential by the day, the library wanted to expand the numbers of computers in the facility. The new building contains a much larger area for the public access computers, Snyder said.
The cramped space also made it difficult for the staff to perform their needed duties.
“We have a larger area for the staff to do the tasks they need to do to keep the library running efficiently and effectively,” Snyder said.
The new building costs approximately $2 million, and the library system paid for the new building by securing a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant in partnership with the city of Lewisport, and by floating a bond for the rest of the money.
The grant came through the state Department of Local Government. The Hancock County library system broke ground on the new location on October 31, 2020.
By Ralph Dickerson