Dade library in 2nd temporary home after tornado

Dade library in 2nd temporary home after tornado

June 25th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

April Tinker, library assistant, is adjusting to the second temporary location of the Dade County Library in Trenton, Ga.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

TRENTON, Ga. - Storms, renovations and trouble with a contractor have forced the Dade County library into its second temporary home after the April tornado burst through the roof and damaged 27,000 volumes.

The original library building on Court Street closed Oct. 11, and the library reopened at the former CVS store next to Ingles on Main Street. The plan was for the library to operate out of the shopping center while the old building was renovated and ready for use this summer.

But a tornado and construction delays changed those plans, and the library has been moved to 12551 N. Main St.

"This has just been so unfortunate," said Lecia Eubanks, director of the Cherokee Regional Library System, which provides oversight and management for the Dade County library and three others.

In Dade, the April tornado soaked 30,000 books that have been sent to Atlanta to be cleaned. About 3,000 books escaped damage, many because they were out with patrons when the storms hit.

One of the hardest-hit areas in the building was the local history and genealogy room, Eubanks said. Many of those documents and books have been sent to Texas, where they were freeze-dried in an effort to save them.

Eubanks said she expects to be able to save all but about 10 percent of the books, but all the library's electronics are gone. In a perfect world, the books would be cleaned about the time the library opens in its new, renovated location, she said.

In the meantime, staff members are taking donations and borrowing from other libraries.

"We are doing everything we can to get the books we don't have," said branch manager Marshana Sharp.

On May 2 - two weeks before the renovated library should was to have been open - Eubanks and other leaders terminated their contract with construction company Knight Associates in Marietta with only about 60 percent of the work done. Eubanks wouldn't say exactly what problems existed, but said several targets were not met in the renovation timeline.

"We were very thoughtful and methodical about that decision," she said. "We did not take it lightly."

The final phase of construction was put back out for bid among the original bidders, and those proposals are due back in early August. The bids will include possible finish dates, but Eubanks said she hopes there might only be two months of work left.

Meanwhile, the library's temporary location, a former chiropractor's office, will have to do even though it's just 1,000 square feet compared to the 4,000 square feet the staff and patrons were used to.

"It's a little too small and a little too quaint," Eubanks said. "They're tripping all over each other."

One day last week, the library was packed when about 50 children stopped by after story time at Dade County Elementary School.

"It was kind of tight in there," said Sharp. "We were rubbing elbows."