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The Morrill Public Library at Fifth and Oregon will be undergoing a renovation project starting in January.

The Morrill Public Library in Hiawatha is gearing up for a nearly $700,000 renovation project to start in January.

Erin Verbick, who has been serving as interim library director and was just named full-time director starting in December, said the projects will get underway in January.

She said the board had been planning the renovations for nearly 8 years now and with contracts completed with AHRS Construction, the physical work will get under way in January.

She said many of the improvements are for safety — such as new doorknobs, ADA com pliancy for doorways and bathrooms, railings and improving the back downstairs entrance.

In addition, a new HVAC system will be installed, along with a de-humidification system to help preserve the books and other items at the library.

Work will also include expanding the meeting space downstairs as a current staff work room will be remodeled to offer that additional public space. Verbick said that upstairs a study room will be added near the current Genealogy section.

“We aren’t expanding our space, just revamping everything to make these fit,” she said.

She said there will be a dedicated young adult area with seating and new computer stations for youth and adults. The Accuquilt and other like services will be moved to a dedicated space for that as well.

“We’re just basically giving the library a facelift,” she said.

The renovations will total approximately $700,000 and she said the money will come from the capital improvement fund, revenue from a farm that was dedicated to the library and some investments. She said the committee has been looking into grants to help fund additional furniture and accessories.

Verbick said they wanted the community to know that the library should remain open as usual — with the exception of possibly being closed a couple long weekends for the installation of flooring. The estimated length of the entire project is 7 months, she said.

“We are excited to let people know about it,” she said.

This will be the third major renovation in recent years. In 1993, the library doubled its size with a major renovation and in 2000 the children’s library area was renovated.

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