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East Lansing Public Library set to reopen after $1.7 million update

September 29, 2016
Education freshman Heather McArdle cleans books on Sept. 27, 2016 in the East Lansing Public Library at 950 Abbott Rd. McArdle volunteered her time to help prepare the library for its reopening after several months of renovations.
Education freshman Heather McArdle cleans books on Sept. 27, 2016 in the East Lansing Public Library at 950 Abbott Rd. McArdle volunteered her time to help prepare the library for its reopening after several months of renovations. —
Photo by Derek VanHorn | and Derek VanHorn The State News

The East Lansing Public Library, or ELPL, will open to the public this weekend after being closed for more than a month while undergoing renovations funded by an anonymous donation of $1.5 million.

ELPL’s grand opening will be at noon Saturday. The 11-month project caused closures of different sections of the building throughout the year, and closed the entire building in August. Saturday’s event will feature some short speeches, desserts and children’s activities.

The renovations cost a total of $1.7 million after some structural and safety work was included in the renovation. The donation, given in spring 2015, covered all the renovations and the remainder of the costs were taken from the library’s budget, ELPL director Kristin Shelley said.

“If everything we wanted was included, the project would’ve (cost) $11 million,” Shelley said.

Some major projects in the renovations include a more open floor plan, a centralized service desk, larger teen and kids areas, an inclusive bathroom, a nursing room for mothers and a Maker Studio.

The Maker Studio will include 3-D printers and scanners, sewing machines, podcasting equipment, computers with Adobe suite and a soundproof music practice room. Shelley said the new feature will be popular among MSU students and the community.

“I think the Maker Studio will be incredibly popular with both college students and the community,” Shelley said. “The 3-D printing costs 10 cents a gram to print. That’s the only cost to the studio. You can come in and design a pamphlet with the Adobe Creative Suite, that would be free unless you printed it because printing is 10 cents a page.”

The library has always been a useful tool to college students and the new renovations will be helpful, Shelley said.

“We see a lot of students come and study here,” Shelley said. “They like to probably get away from campus to a place where they can be comfortable and study.”

Students can get a free library card even if they are not East Lansing residents. Showing their student ID at the service desk will get the process started.

In addition to studying, Shelley said many students are involved in working or volunteering at the library. She said many students volunteer for homework help with students in grade school or are involved in the off-campus study program at the library.

Elementary education freshman Heather McArdle is now a volunteer at the library for service learning.

She said she enjoys helping the library and is excited to volunteer more once the renovations are complete.

“I thought it was a great place, it was recommended by my teacher,” McArdle said. “It’s pretty close and I can take the bus to it. I thought it’d be fun to interact with kids my age and do things with them.”

McArdle said although she’d never been to the library before the renovations started, she intends to be there more often now.

“It looks really nice, what they’re doing,” she said. “I wasn’t here before the renovations so I don’t know what it looked like before, but I think it’ll look good after.”

Tim Dempsey, the East Lansing director of planning, building and development, said he thinks the renovations to the library are important to the community. An East Lansing resident, he said he and his family go to the library weekly.

“Given the age of the library, it was definitely I think the right time to update the aesthetics and reconfigure space to, I think, the way people use the library now,” Dempsey said. “It’s not just about stacks of books, it’s about the things that they’re doing like the maker’s space. ... I’m excited because it’s trying to make it a 21st century library, and this will be long overdue.”

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