A COVID relief grant has enabled the Madras library to get new flooring, restroom features and better Wi-Fi to better serve patrons.
"We had old carpet and tile that had been cracking and in bad shape, but mainly our concern was with the carpet," said Jefferson County Library District Assistant Director Laura Jones. "With the new kind of sanitary guidelines, it's hard to keep it up to the level of cleanliness that CDC wants us to have."
The library building was closed to the public for about 10 days beginning Saturday, Feb. 13. It opened Tuesday.
The library district received about $180,000 from the COVID-19 Relief Fund Grant. The money was to be used to cover COVID-related expenses that were not already in the budget.
Jones, who is heading up the remodel project, said they were trying to decide how they could best serve the community with the funds.
They first purchased a large supply of personal protective equipment. The library team looked into other ways they could improve sanitary conditions. They decided to replace the flooring and update the restroom features and began making plans in December.
Jones worked with Redmond-based Carpetco Flooring, the same commercial flooring company the library used when updating the children's corner.
"We wanted to get away from carpet," Jones said, adding that vacuuming carpet releases particles into the air. "Our other concern is that if we put in some sort of wood flooring or laminate flooring, it would be noisy, and we want a library to be quiet."
They explored several flooring types and settled on a tight-fit luxury vinyl flooring with a rubber base and wood-look veneer top in the color sun peak.
"It looks like we put in wood flooring, but it has a cushioning so that when you walk across it, the sound is muffled," Jones said. "I can't wait to walk on high heels and see how quiet it is."
The demolition and flooring project cost about $50,000 of the COVID funds.
The library then spent around $6,000 of the grant to remodel the restrooms with touchless sinks and touchless toilets, making it less contact, safer and easier cleanup.
Jones said the library also upped its Wi-Fi strength to better serve patrons who use the library's internet service. Additionally, the library team upgraded their technology and device lending and cleaning process. The funds also went toward additional sanitation and supplemental programing.
"Right now, there are still a lot of the libraries here in Oregon that are on tight restrictions," Jones said. They wanted to reevaluate what they could do to continue providing resources and being open to the public.
Jones thanks library patrons for being patient throughout the remodel process and says the library will be a safe and cleaner environment thanks to these upgrades.
"I know it's hard when you want your books and you can't come and get them," she said of the temporary library closure.
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