Judging by the large crowd on hand for the grand reopening of the Hillsboro Public Library’s Shute Park Branch last Saturday, the money and time it took was well worth the HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Surrounded by officials and enthusiastic kids on Saturday morning, Mayor Jerry Willey wields big scissors as he prepares to slice through a ceremonial grand reopening ribbon before letting the crowd in to the Shute Park Branch library.

“We redesigned the building to be as efficient as we could, and we expect energy savings,” said Hillsboro Public Library Director Michael Smith.

The Shute Park Branch, located at 775 S.E. 10th Ave., was closed in May 2013 for a major renovation.

The building was built in 1975, and has long had a reputation for being the city’s “least efficient” facility. That’s no longer the case.

The $5.4 million remodel almost completely rebuilt the interior, with new windows, a new roof, new plumbing, new electrical systems and the installation of new energy-efficient heating and cooling technology all part of the product. An automated materials handling system to check in and sort materials returned by patrons was also installed.

Also, the entire 15,000-square-foot building was retrofitted to provide more protection in the event of an earthquake. But perhaps the most obvious alteration was relocating the library’s entrance from the south side of the building to the west side, where it faces Shute Park.

On Saturday, hundreds gathered to see the newly-designed facility, and the initial reviews from citizens, city officials and library staffers were very positive.

“I love the remodel,” said Tim Gabriel, a Hillsboro artist. “I like how it faces the park now. It invites you to go into the park.”

Before the doors were opened to the public at a little after 10 a.m., Mayor Jerry Willey briefly addressed the crowd, expressing appreciation for the community’s patience and support and thanking those who helped make the project a reality.

“This is an exciting time,” said Willey. “The Hillsboro Public Library started 100 years ago in 1914. We did not have a librarian. We did not have any books. We had a $1,000 budget. And from that we’ve come to here. We now serve the Hillsboro community with the expanded main library and the renovated Shute Park Branch.”

Several hundred people showed up for the morning dedication, with hundreds more visiting during the day.

“The turnout is absolutely amazing,” said

Hillsboro City Council member Steve Callaway during the opening ceremony. “What was a cave is now beautiful, open and light. Now, no matter which end of Hillsboro you’re in, there is a first-class facility for all Hillsboro residents.”

The remade library’s many large windows and the amount of natural light they let in made a big impression.

“It really makes a difference,” said Elizabeth Edward, a library volunteer. “It’s so open now. It makes you want to come and hang out here. It has good vibes.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the library’s hours of operation. The remodeled Shute Park Library will maintain the same schedule as it did previously: It will be open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library is closed on Sundays.

Smith, who has served as the Hillsboro library’s director for the past six years, pointed out that the project had been in the works for about 15 years — and added that he felt a special sense of pride to see the renovated library reopen.

“It’s especially gratifying because I’m going to retire at the end of May, and this is kind of a capper,” Smith said.

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