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Celebration of Hackley Library Renovation | Arts & Culture

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Celebration of Hackley Library Renovation
Arts & Culture
Celebration of Hackley Library Renovation

Celebration of Hackley Library Renovation


The Hackley Public Library is celebrating the completion of Phase I of the “Building of Character” repair and renovation project with a grand public open house on Friday, May 15.  The entire library will be open from 10:00 to 5:00 and the whole community is invited to visit.  There will be a short program at 10:30 am.  Refreshments will be served all day


The goal of the $1.2 million project has been to make sure that the venerable 124 year old structure is safe, functional, accessible, welcoming and comfortable into its third century, while respecting and preserving its heritage.  As much as possible old materials were reused and repurposed.  The Hackley Public Library is on the Michigan Historic Buildings register and is located in Muskegon’s National Historic District. 


The “Building of Character” project has been in the study and planning stages since 2002.  A fundraising drive started in 2010.  Construction work started in the spring of 2013.  Construction management services are being provided by Port City Construction & Development Services, Muskegon. Architect for this project is Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber of Grand Rapids.  The project is funded entirely with donations, grants and funds saved for this purpose.  More than 410 donors provided support.


Functional improvements include new, brighter and more energy efficient lighting, as well improved electrical and data services.  Over the years miles of unsightly electrical conduit had been installed on of library walls and ceilings.  As part of this project, the old lines have been upgraded and put inside the walls so that the library appears much the way it did when it opened in 1890, when electrical service was extremely limited.  Additional outlets have been added so that people can use their laptops and other devices without the need for extension cords, and data services were improved.  Old, round oak tables from the children’s department have been repurposed and serve in the new technology center.


Fresh paint in colors very close to the original colors now makes the interior of Hackley Public Library brighter so that visitors can read and see without strain.  The trim and the decorative plaster are painted in several different colors again, making those special features much more visible.


The original quarter sawn oak panels were reinstalled on a new circulation desk, which was completely rebuilt on the inside and relocated near the library’s front door.


To reduce trip hazards and improve user comfort, new flooring with a Victorian botanical motif has been installed.  The very large Persian rug in the Julia Hackley was cleaned, then sent to the Middle East for repair on a very large rug loom, and put back on a new cork floor.  Many old libraries featured cork floors for their quiet and durability.


The old public restrooms, last remodeled in the 1930s when the Muskegon Community College library was located in the Hackley Library, were completely gutted right down to the sand under the building.  New pipes, floors and fixtures were installed and the rest rooms were enlarged and completely reconfigured so that they are accessible to all.


Weather has delayed the construction of an emergency exit from the Hackley Library, but work is continuing and is expected to be completed in early summer.  Following that, the restroom in the Children’s Department will be renovated so that it is safer as well as more accessible to all families.  The Children’s Department portion of the Building of Character project was completed first and celebrated in November 2012.


The Friends of Hackley Library has begun raising funds to improve the gathering spaces in lower level of the library, where two new meeting rooms are planned.  The Friends funded much of the renovation of the Children’s department on the second floor.


The Hackley Public Library was not air conditioned nor was the heating system replaced during Phase I.  Approximately $4 million in critical upgrades and renovations have been identified by engineers and architects.  Recognizing the economic realities, the Library Board believed that it was important to focus on public safety and health in this phase of the Building of Character project.  Energy efficiency including the replacement of the heating system, adding a ventilation and cooling system and window replacement, will be part of Phase II.  Accessibility improvements, including badly needed improvements to the front door area are planned for the final Phase III.

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