Matawan Aberdeen Library Preparing to Start Renovations
Construction is expected to start by the beginning of October, if not the end of September, library director says.
The Matawan Aberdeen Public Library is preparing to begin basement and office renovations, according to Library Director Kimberly Paone. A storage Pod in the parking lot is packed and construction may begin as early as the end of September.
The board initially approved Architect Christine Balint to design plans for an expanded meeting space in the basement and a renovation of office space on the main floor in February.
The board then issued a bid for the construction phase of the project, noting that they did not want to spend more than $200,000. The successful bidder was Four Star Developers of Neptune, Paone said, and the project is expected to cost $185,300.
"There's always a possibility that once the construction starts that changes have to be made. It's nice to have a little leeway," Paone said.
The project contains two major components, she explained.
The first component involves the basement. Currently, the basement is divided into three equally porpotioned areas. The first room operates as a meeting room that is open to the public and can be reached through the children's room. The second room was used by the library as bulk storage for craft items and other supplies, while the third room was used for storage of old newspapers and magazines that have since been digitized, according to Paone. The second and third room are not open to the public.
Plans for the basement include creating one large meeting room out of the current meeting room and the current bulk storage room. The new meeting room will have a soundproof sliding partition, allowing two groups to meet in the room at once. There will also be two separate doors allowing access to the meeting room so two groups meeting at the same time will not disrupt one another, Paone explained.
A storage area will be built behind the new meeting room and will be used primarily by the Friends of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library.
The third section, which is currently used for storage of old papers, will become a staff area with lockers, a modest kitchen and a bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom will be accessible by those using the meeting area, Paone said.
After the expansion, the library plans to make meeting space more readily available for community groups and nonprofits.
"The current space is really very small and we use it for everything from baby programs to board meetings," she said. "At this point we really don't have the opportunity to open any of our meeting space to the community because we're using it all the time for our programs."
Paone noted that library use has grown over the last two years and she hopes the renovation will make the building an even more valuable resource for both Matawan and Aberdeen.
"We've seen a huge increase in foot traffic in the library. We have more people attending programs; we have a higher circulation; we have more people using our computers," she said. "We have limited space. We really need to maximize the space that we have."
The color scheme of the new meeting room will follow local Matawan and Aberdeen colors, with gray, maroon and white.
The second component of the renovation will take place on the main floor where several staff members have desks and where the staff lockers are currently located. This space, which is near the reference materials, will be remodeled to include offices for the technical services staff member, the book keeper, and the head of circulation.
The color scheme of the staff offices will match the rest of the rooms on the main floor.
The library plans to remain open throughout the duration of the project. However, sections of the children's room may have to be closed to allow construction workers easy access from the parking lot to the construction site, Paone explained.
During the construction, several regularly scheduled programs will be held at an alternative location, such as the Matawan Community Center, the Women's Club of Matawan, the Aberdeen Senior Center, and even Starbucks. (To see when and where library programs will be held, visit their event calendar.)
The children's programs cannot be held at a different location, Paone explained, so the children's department is cutting back on programs and finding innovative ways to maintain other ones. For example, the drop-in craft will become a craft-on-the-go, with all the necessary supplies in a bag so a child can bring the craft home.
"This way they're still coming to the library and still picking out books," Paone said. "We're trying to work with the space we have and the children's librarians have been very creative."
As long as there are no major bumps in the road, the renovations are expected to be completed in February.
Have additional questions about the library renovations that you would like answered? Paone will hold an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 24 for patrons to inquire about the project and even view the plans.