Renovations to close parts of Shelton’s Plumb Library for months

SHELTON — Plumb Memorial Library is entering the final phase of a renovation project that began four years ago.

Director Joan Stokes, sitting alongside Library Board Chair Jim Geissler, announced that phase four of the work would begin March 28 and would require the closing of the main floor adult department for at least two months.

“This is it. It’s an exciting time,” Stokes said.

Right now, staff is working to pack and move materials, and beginning March 28 — the day the main floor adult department will close to the public — National Library Relocators will begin moving all books from the periphery of the main floor to the lower-level meeting room for storage.

Books will be kept on the shelves in the middle of the floor, Stokes said, and the company will then shrink wrap each of those shelves.

The work — estimated at some $300,000 — will focus on removing the present ceiling, painting the walls and ceiling, and installing new flooring and lighting. During this work, Stokes said the HVAC system — which failed last summer, forcing the library to be closed on hot days — will also be replaced.

These renovations are being done in the main section, which was built in 1975, and, according to Stokes, untouched since then.

“The public and staff will have a clean, secure and safe environment, emphasis on clean,” Stokes said about the impact once the renovations are complete.

While the renovation is underway, all adult materials will be inaccessible to the public and adult programs will be postponed to a later date or moved to the Huntington branch. The branch will have all materials available at this time, Stokes said.

Plans are for the old historic section, including the Connecticut Room and the area that holds the magazines, will be accessible. The book sale area, which has been gaining in popularity, will remain open, as will the Children’s Department.

Stokes said the department will remain the same size, but with a different floor plan. For the first time ever, she said the library will have a designated reference department and areas for reference librarians to assist people with technology.

“The floor plan will be more user friendly for the public,” Stokes said.

Stokes said there will be a dedicated area off the circulation desk for new books, and a small coffee bar area, popular nowadays in libraries, will be created as well.

“This is long overdue,” said Stokes, who has preached the need to create a clean, more functional library since her arrival as director.

Geissler says he hopes for a a grand reopening some time in the fall.

“This is a result of our staff, (Friends of Shelton Public Libraries), the board and the city working together,” Stokes said. “My 5-year-old grandson always says, ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ That is so true. Whether you are 5 or 55, the phase still holds true. The dream is becoming reality.”

Renovations began in 2018, and since the lower-level main meeting room, children’s department and the historic older section of Plumb Memorial Library have been completed. An elevator has been installed, and the building has been made ADA compliant.

Once all phases are complete, the library board will have spent some $630,000 for the renovations. The funds come from the library’s board’s endowment fund. All the money spent comes from the Library Endowment Fund.