WILLIAMSTOWN — The David & Joyce Milne Public Library is about to take another step in a plan to upgrade their building.
And it's a big one: Beginning in the fall, work will begin on a $250,000 renovation of the lobby and circulation desk area, work that will result in a simpler, brighter space with clear sight lines and a more efficient feel.
Most of the funding — $160,000 — was a bequest from late library patron and Berkshire Eagle copy editor William Scanlan, who died in 2014. Additional funding was secured during a campaign that resulted in major donations from Williams College, Greylock Federal Credit Union and the Craig Family Trust. Library officials are still seeking to raise another $25,000 to complete funding for the project.
The new circulation desk will be dedicated to honor Scanlan's memory, said Pat McLeod, library director.
"That's the fun thing about this renovation," she said. "Not only do we get a new lobby, but we also get to honor someone who supported the library in life and in death."
According to Charles Bonenti, chairman of the library board of trustees and retired features editor for The Eagle, Scanlan may have seemed quiet, but he was a very humorous man.
"He was short of words, but he was a real character," Bonenti said. "He was very sharp, and very well read. And he was a mentor to many young reporters."
Scanlan left $80,000 to the library and another $80,000 to the Friends of the Milne Public Library. The two combined forces to check off this latest item in the master plan.
The work will remove decorative brick columns, leaving slim steel support beams and opening the space visually. The floors and walls will be covered with sound absorbing coverings, a half-moon circulation desk will be installed on the wall opposite from the entryway, and the old furniture removed. The book shelves will also be replaced with lighter-colored wood shelving. There will be new lighting and new seating areas.
During the work, there will be a different entryway for a few weeks.
The result will be a brighter, quieter, welcoming space with clear pathways and immediate contact with people manning the circulation desk.
Recently the library has renovated the children's room and repaved the parking lot. Once the lobby project is complete, likely by the end of the year, officials will start on reorganizing a few spaces, like creating a Community Room in the rear of the building for public events and quiet reading, as well as moving the computers into the main collections rooms and reconfiguring the current computer room into a space for teens to use for study and browsing.
According to information provided by the McLeod, Milne Library is the second busiest in Berkshire County with 6,350 card holders and more than 80,000 user visits annually. The collection includes more than 155,000 items. Owned by the town, the library has a staff of 13 and an annual operating budget of $489,000.
The building was constructed in 1971 as the new Pine Cobble School, which had previously burned down. In the early 1990s, Pine Cobble School relocated to Gale Road, and the Milnes gave the building to the town for use as a library. It opened in 1999.
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.