Construction soon on Andrews library addition

This sketch shows the proposed addition to the Andrews Public Library.
This sketch shows the proposed addition to the Andrews Public Library. Graphic provided.

A desire for improvement led to the construction of the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library, in Andrews, in 1926.

Today a similar desire has the library primed for its biggest construction project since then.

Nancy Disbro, the library's director, had noticed a variety of issues with the building that limited its effectiveness in serving the community.

"It's a split-level building, so there are steps up to the door, and once you come in the main door, there are steps up to the main level and steps down to the basement level.

"So anyone with any kind of mobility issue is going to have problems coming into the library," she says.

Outdated utilities, a single entrance and the lack of a fire exit were other issues that Disbro, as well as the Andrews Library Board, noticed. This fueled their pursuit of a Community Focus Fund (CFF) grant from the state, which helps communities finance projects that are in the interests of long-term community development.

On Aug. 31, the town of Andrews was awarded a CFF grant totaling $261,102. With the Andrews Town Council currently accepting bids from contractors and subcontractors to begin work on the project, construction isn't far off.

"It gets more exciting as we start to work out the details of the project and know that it's become a reality," Disbro says.

In addition to remedying the issues at the library observed by Disbro and the library board, the project will also double the size of the library, make it handicap-accessible and fund renovations to the basement, which includes the additions of a kitchenette and men's and women's restrooms.

Disbro anticipates the ways the library will benefit from the project.

"I would like to see more programming," she says. "Our meeting room space is not larger, but I think it will function better because of the accessibility and the kitchenette space and the restrooms.

"I think we'll just be able to use that existing meeting room in a lot better fashion so we can offer different kinds of programs."

While the library may be changing, it was important to both Disbro and the library board that the building retain its character.

"It's a beautiful building and it was important to the board to maintain the historic integrity of the building," she says. "We think it's a community icon and wanted to preserve that and just make it so that it was a great space for everyone."

Disbro says that the Andrews Library Club, which was a group comprised of local women, began operating a library in Andrews in 1906. The library was nomadic for many years, moving from building to building, when the club decided in order to best serve the community, it should have a space of its own. Hence, land was donated, funds were raised and the library was constructed in 1926.

Disbro sees the parallels between the initial construction of the library and the current construction project, which is set to begin in March and be completed by the fall.
"We felt that the board was continuing (the club's) inspiration, to raise funds and work toward improving this existing building that they worked so hard for," she says.