Midland Library gets major ‘spring cleaning’

Actually, it was more like a major remodel! If you were one of the folks who were surprised to find Midland Library closed, a couple of weeks ago – take a peek at what was going on inside …

Midland Library manager Javier Gutierrez shows us around during the week-long cleaning and remodeling project in April.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the most-used public buildings in outer East Portland is, without a doubt, Multnomah County’s Midland Library.

“This library building has been open for 12 years now,” manager Javier Gutierrez told us, as we walked into the great room on April 13. “This is the first time we’ve been closed for maintenance. We’re one of the busiest libraries in the county, so it does get a lot of wear and tear.”

This is an unusual sight: Midland Library devoid of books, and without patrons.

The wall-to-wall carpeting in the public areas, about 26,000 sq. ft. of it, was starting to wear out, especially around the desks and walking areas. Workers stripped it out and replaced it with large squares of carpet tiles.

“Being closed these days is a very big undertaking,” Gutierrez. “We wish we could have kept the library open, and done this in parts and pieces, but the amount of work to be done was simply too great.”

Contractor Fred Zittleman with H&F Enterprises talks with Multnomah County Project Manager Ned Nabeta about the remodeling project.

A ‘green’ remodel
We asked Penny Hummel, the library system’s communications manager to reveal some of the specifics that went into the spruce-up program.

She pointed out that, before the work could begin, computers had to be unhooked and stored, furniture moved, and everything covered with protective plastic – a major job in and of itself.

“The new carpet contains 45 to 48% recycled material; it’s a ‘Green Label Plus’ product,” Hummel began. “It’s very durable and stain-resistant, but if a carpet tile is damaged, it can be easily replaced. And, the old carpet was recycled by the installer. All of the adhesives that were used on this project were water-based, low-VOC products.”

In addition to the replacement of the flooring, county workers replaced lights that were out throughout the building, replaced feet on the chairs, replaced some of the wooden baseboarding by the restrooms, and refinished the edges of the tables.

In total, Hummel said, the effort was budgeted at $120,000.

Sonny Garcia quickly and carefully lays replaceable sections of carpet tile on the new library floor.

Workers stay on the job
During the peak of the remodeling, as many as 30 workers were in the building, racing to meet their goal of reopening on April 20.

“Our staff continued to work, even though the building was closed to the public,” Gutierrez told us. “We’ve been processing incoming books from the drops, sorting file cards, and getting ready to re-shelve items. We circulate over 60,000 items a month.”

As patrons started returning to Midland Library, after the week-long clean-up marathon, many of them looked surprised and pleased to see the clean, renewed building that was theirs again to use and enjoy.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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