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Newly renovated library reopens to the public

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POLSON — The North Lake County Public Library reopened its doors last week following the completion of a near year-long renovation project. Library Director Abbi Dooley performed ribbon-cutting honors at 9 a.m. Feb. 14 before welcoming community members into the newly renovated building. 

Held on Valentine’s Day, the library’s reopening coincides with National Library Lover’s Month observed annually in February. A true community endeavor, more than 50 volunteers helped move boxes of books to the library while another 20 or so helped shelve books prior to the grand reopening.

Several reading areas with couches, tables and chairs are located alongside north facing windows among new, lower height book shelves easily seen over – lending a bright, open feel to the space. Phone charging stations, electrical outlets and computers are also available for use throughout the library.

From concept to completion the renovation project took about four years and cost an estimated $2.5 million. Though the footprint wasn’t expanded, Dooley said the library was able to recapture space that had been previously utilized as the Sandpiper Art Gallery and foyer entrance. About 2,000 square feet of usable space was gained through renovation.

A majority of funding for the project was raised by the North Lake County Library Foundation Dooley said. Money the library had put aside in a depreciation fund was also used. The last few bills for construction and furniture were paid through an INTERCAP loan the library took out to reopen. The library’s foundation will continue to fundraise in order to pay back the loan and update the library’s books and technology as needed in the future.

Public tours were offered to the community on Feb. 13 prior to the library’s grand reopening. New features at the library include a coffee shop with espresso drinks and hot chocolate, a pirate ship play area in the children’s section and an induction hearing loop system in the library’s community room. A grant from the American Library Association funded the new induction hearing loop system which allows people with hearing aides or cochlear implants to listen to hear audio directly through their hearing device. Anyone with a “T-coil” in their hearing device can ask their audiologist to activate it in order to access assistive listening systems.

A nursery nook, expanded teen area and maker space are other new features at the library. Located within the children’s area, the nursery nook is a space specifically for babies and young toddlers that is safer due to its separate, less trafficked location. Not yet open, the new maker space, will eventually house a sewing machine, 3D printer and other various equipment. In the future, the maker space will be available for people to rent. Associated library programming for the maker space will also be offered.

Thanks to a grant from the Greater Polson Community Foundation, a Nintendo Switch is newly available for check out.

The addition of the coffee shop added three new staffers to the library who works as both baristas and library assistants. A digital services position that had been open since last March has also been filled.

The library will continue its regular kids programming that had been held at the United Methodist Church (where the library operated during renovation.) Mother Goose, for 0-3 year-olds is held Mondays at 9:15. Story time for 3-5 year-olds is held Thursday at 10 a.m.

Adult programming resumes on Feb. 22 through a special collaboration with Mission Valley Live. At 10 a.m., Sergei and Maria Teleshev, renowned U.S. musicians and accordion players, will perform their unique arrangements and educate the public about the accordion. The duo’s music will take listeners on a journey through diverse styles such as classical, tango, jazz, pop, and original.

With the same geographic boundaries as Polson’s school district, the library serves residents north of Minesinger Road up to the county line along the east and west shores of Flathead Lake. The library is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee shop hours Monday -Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3 to 4 p.m. On Saturdays the coffee shop is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library is closed Sundays and holidays.

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