Library upgrades are long overdue


During the Nov. 13 city council meeting members of the city board approved $12,000 in TIFF funding for the Paris Carnegie Library, according to library director Ceili Boylan the timing of the extra funding could not be better.

“We (The Library Board of Trustees and the Library Staff) are grateful for the support we received from Mayor Craig Smith and the City Council,” Boylan said. The funding provided to the library will go directly to security upgrades and new cameras.

“We don't usually have issues, but issues come up regularly,” Boylan said. “When we were reviewing footage of some (recent) events we found that our current camera system did not meet our needs.”

Boylan reported concerning incidents to the library board, and they directed her to look into upgrading the cameras as part of their commitment to continuing to improve the library and meeting community needs.

“After a board meeting, I ran into Mayor Smith, and he asked me how things were going at the library,” Boylan said. “I told him about (an) incident, and he immediately wanted to help. The entire project has only taken a few months to get to this point because of the commitment to public safety of all involved.”

On Nov. 11 another incident occurred at the library. The portico was vandalized with a spray-painted piece of artwork. The event happened just days before the city council meeting where the library’s request for funds was going to be discussed.

Boylan says the timing of the event, while the action was unfortunate, was perfect.

“It was a great example of something we could have used cameras for,” she said.

Midwest Restoration cleaned the paint off the library free of charge leaving the building cleaner than it has been in decades.

“Kris Furry did a great job. We are thankful for his hard work,” Boylan said. “We wouldn't have been able to restore the bricks and limestone without him.”

Currently, the library has four cameras downstairs in the children's area. The cameras were originally put in to help mitigate sightline issues in the lower level. The library’s original 1904 layout made it possible for a librarian to easily see all areas of the building, but time and varying needs in a community space have changed what library staff are able to see.

The floor space on the upper level is insufficient for the current needs of the library, and some of the vast collection has migrated downstairs.

“We don't have the staff to have someone downstairs during all hours of operation,” said Boylan. “We rely on the cameras to help us cover that area.”

Another area of the library with little visibility is the entrance on the north side of the building. “People don't even realize it is a public entrance to the library. A lot of people assume it's a backdoor or trade entrance,” Boylan said. “We have a lot of kids who like to fool around at the back door because it is so hard to see.”

The library director explains the childish antics have remained harmless, “The kids will mess with the automatic door, scream, run around and bang on the door,” she said. However, as times continue to change, and the community grows the board is remaining committed to ensuring the library remains a safe place for the entire public.

“We are a public building, and during hours of operation, we do not lock our doors,” Boylan said.

The board plans to use local talent to install a new set of security cameras on the inside and outside of the building.

“The library is a complex building to wire. The original structure was wired for electricity but also fitted for gas lighting because people weren't sure electricity would replace gas at the time,” Boylan explained. “The historic walls are lath and plaster with woodwork. Though built in the 90s, our addition is not built to be rewired. The walls are cinderblock, and the entire structure was designed to be a storm shelter. The meeting point between the old and the new is also tricky.”

Since the approval of TIF funds the library has hired Matt Jackson to take on the job of installing cameras and is optimistically looking forward to the future of the building, and the services it can provide.

“The board and I are thinking about how to preserve or improve the library physically,” said Boylan. “The cameras are only part of that. We are investigating the costs of repairing or replacing our windows. The windows have lasted 120 years, but people are starting to notice some wear and tear. We are looking at our outdoor space next.”