Library projects may be completed by December

Renovations of the main branch downtown and construction of a new library on La Neuville Road may be complete in time for both to open by year’s end.

“They’re both tracking for a December opening,” said Sona Dombourian, public libraries director.

Work at the three-story, main library is expected to be complete by June, but the process of moving furniture, equipment and the branch’s extensive inventory to reopen for patrons will take a few months, she said.

A major overhaul of the library involved a modernization of the building, which was built about 40 years ago, Dombourian said.

“We’ve made it more modern and responsive to the needs of our users,” she said.

Library patrons might not even recognize the new downtown branch when it reopens.

The front entrance is moving to the Lafayette Street side of the building, and the first floor is being reconfigured to serve as the home of a much larger children’s section, which will have separate rooms for crafts and storytelling.

Plans call for the first floor to have a teen section.

The renovation will add new study rooms.

The work began with crews gutting the old downtown branch, leaving a blank slate of support columns and interior walls.

It’s the first major update for the downtown branch since the building opened in 1973.

The main library closed in April 2011 to begin the process of clearing out the library and relocating to a former storefront on Jefferson Street during the renovation.

Much of the branch’s inventory is in storage and accessible to patrons by request. Asbestos removal in the building began in 2012 and the renovations began in May, Dombourian said.

Construction of the new East Regional branch on La Neuville Road, adjacent to Fabacher Field, began in October, but because of this winter’s freezes, the foundation could not be poured and cured until February, Dombourian said.

Despite the delay, construction could be complete by late August, she said.

Because it’s a smaller facility —15,000 square feet and a single level — the move-in will take less time than the three-story downtown branch, she added.

The new East Regional branch will serve the booming areas of Youngsville and Broussard.

Plans call for a children’s area with a storytelling room, a separate area for teenagers, wireless Internet, public access computers, study rooms and meeting rooms.

The downtown and East Regional projects are funded by a $40 million bond measure approved by voters in 2002 that also is funding construction of three other branches: North Regional in Carencro, which opened about seven years ago; South Regional in Lafayette, which opened about five years ago; and a West Regional branch to be built in Scott.

Dombourian said the library board is in the process of purchasing property off the planned extension of Apollo Road in Scott. The board is working with a consultant before the design process begins for that particular branch, she said.

“We’ve started the planning but the actual design hasn’t started yet,” Dombourian said. “That will probably start later this year.”