Major remodel briefly closes Midland Library

UPDATED: Find out what’s being done, both inside and out, at our regional outer East Portland Library, in the Mill Park neighborhood …

Workers finish drywall work in the “sort room” at the Midland Regional Branch Library; it’s part of a two-week-long refurbishing marathon in the facility, to update operations.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Inside the 3,125 square-foot Midland Regional Branch Library, originally opened in 1958 and located just south of SE Stark Street along 122nd Avenue in the Mill Park neighborhood, workers have been busy inside the facility that’s been closed to the public since March 1.

“We are on pace to reopen as planned on March 16,” assured Multnomah County Library Communications Strategist Chelsea Bailey, as she led a media tour of the site on March 11.

-2 Renovations are taking place inside Midland Library, reports Multnomah County Library Communications Strategist Chelsea Bailey.

“The Midland interior renovation project, costing $828,233.74, brings improvements such as a new ‘automated materials handling system’, IT (computer) infrastructure and improved wifi, an additional public study room, and new water bottle refilling station,” Bailey told East Portland News.

The first new thing patrons will see – it will be completed by the end of March – will be the face of their new automated materials return system outside the building, for checking in borrowed materials.

Where this covered hole now is, will soon be the gateway for the library’s new “automated materials return system”.

The reason they don’t use the term “book return” is that much of what the library lends out these days isn’t just printed books, but also audio recordings and DVDs, we learned.

“Patrons will be able to walk up to the computerized portal, and return their materials, kind of like returning a rented movie at a ‘Red Box’,” Bailey explained. “Not only will this automated system help staff to more efficiently sort and deliver items, both to the library, and to other libraries around the county, it will provide a receipt to the patron for items dropped off, too.”

After decades of service, the furniture shows some wear. Here, carpenter Adam Smyth refinishes the edge of the desk at the library.

This automation will be especially helpful, because 40% of the materials at Midland Library are used to fulfill “hold requests” elsewhere around the library system. “We have 19 branches, total; 40% of our collection here serves the rest the library system, making this a very busy materials-handling library,” Bailey remarked.

There will still be an option for folks to manually return materials, if they choose to, she said.

The library’s “great room” was the staging area for IT crew members to lay out what seemed like miles of new computer cable to be taken up and strung through the library building.

Here, at one of the library’s many computer terminals, is Construction Project Manager Alan Proffitt.

“During this ‘closed’ time, we’re taking opportunity to upgrade both the information technology and the security systems,” said Construction Project Manager Alan Proffitt.

They’re upgrading both the wiring, and the security for online computers – as well as the wi-fi capabilities – for Midland’s 38 public computers, six iPads for kids, and 20 Chromebooks. And those numbers don’t include PCs that are used for research and staff functions.

“Our computers have become one of the most popular things in the library,” Proffitt observed. “At the same time, we’re also upgrading the facility’s external and internal security cameras and systems.”

They’re also improving the lobby water fountain to add a refillable water bottle station. “And – very exciting, because patrons have chimed in on this – the clock in our clock tower is being fixed!” smiled Bailey. “So, instead of the hands just moving at random times, the clock will actually show accurate time!”

It won’t be long until the Midland Library is once again open to the public.

COVID 19 concerns cancel programs, closes buildings
Asked about the reopening of the library, in light of COVID 19 concerns, Bailey replied, “Midland Library, and all Multnomah County Library buildings are closed to the public, until further notice.

“As you can imagine, information is evolving quickly, so we are committed to keeping the public informed of any changes,” Bailey said, adding that they’ve published a COVID 19 Update webpage – CLICK HERE to open it.

By the way, hang on to books and materials, they’re not fining patrons for late return of materials.

Midland Regional Branch Library is located at 805 SE 122nd Avenue, 97233; telephone (503) 988-5392; or visit their webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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