A 40-foot bookmobile will provide library services at the Milwood Branch from March 31-May 31.[/caption]
Renovations at Austin Public Library’s Milwood Branch are taking longer than officials predicted, and the library will reopen June 1.
John Gillum, library facilities process manager, said when the branch reopens it will be top-of-the-line with new finishes on the floors and walls, new furniture, a new security system and radio frequency identification for library items.
“I think the citizens are going to be really pleased,” he said. “It’s going to be like a brand-new library.”
Features at the renovated facility include a smart book drop, which scans items as soon as customers place them in the book or media drop box, so library-goers never have to worry about wrongly-charged late fees, Gillum said.
The library will also contain a kiosk where members can use their library card to check out laptops and handheld devices—rather than reserve the desktop computers—that they can use anywhere within the library, he said.
The renovation also included adding noise-reducing material to the children’s area, so when children raise their voices, it will not disturb adult members reading or doing research, Gillum said.
Since the library closed in February 2015, officials have operated a pocket library in a meeting room of the Milwood Branch. The pocket library will close Feb. 22 so workers can finish construction, Gillum said.
Between March 31 and May 31, a 40-foot long bookmobile will be parked on-site at 12500 Amherst Drive, Gillum said.
“Bookmobiles are a really hot thing in library services,” he said. “This is a new age, high-tech bookmobile.”
The bookmobile will offer wireless Internet services, computers, hold services and a small collection of books, Gillum said. The bookmobile also has a television on the outside, so the library can host children’s programs, he said.
The library was initially scheduled to reopen in December 2015, but Gillum said the city of Austin asked library officials to bring the building up to the latest American Disabilities Act standards, which required moving walls, changing counter heights and altering the slope of sidewalks.
Gillum said since the library opened in 1997, the surrounding community has used it heavily, and it was due for a revamp.
“We really hated taking this library offline,” he said. “But it really needed to be fixed up.”