LaGrange Memorial Library will officially open on Sept. 29

Published 9:15 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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On Sept. 29, the LaGrange Memorial Library will officially open the doors to its newly remodeled space.

Keith Schuermann, regional director of the Troup-Harris Library System, said it’s rewarding to see the project overcome so many obstacles.

“This finished product has been the culmination of so much fortitude, along with plenty of patience. We weathered a pandemic, inflation, short supply of materials, and labor shortages at different times throughout the course of this project,” Schuermann said. “These challenges required us to redesign some areas, reconsider what was necessary versus what was merely desirable, and reengineer our entire original plans, wherein we saved nearly $1 million.”

He said plans for the remodel emerged when library leadership began a needs assessment for the library in February 2019.

“Four months later, we selected renowned library architect, Chad Alexander Smith of CAS Architecture. In 2021, Principle Construction of LaGrange was selected as our general contractor, and they have done an amazing job in shepherding us to where we are now,” Schuermann said. “We’ve completely gutted the interior and expanded our footprint, from 32,600 square feet to 39,300 square feet.”

Schuermann said when factoring in the design work, construction, new furniture and equipment, the total cost of the project was around $8 million. He said the majority of funding has come from the Callaway Foundation, the State of Georgia, Troup County, and the City of LaGrange. 

“Nearly all of that support has gone to local contractors and suppliers, resulting in a positive economic impact locally,” Schuermann said.

The new library will include many new features, many of which were a result of community feedback.

“In our pre-design community engagement sessions, folks shared a need for a few different elements in a new library:  more light, a larger meeting room, some color in our new design and spaces for programming,” Schuermann said. “The new library will have all of this and then some, including a ‘Maker Mill’ with emerging and interactive technologies, a “Creation Station” focusing on traditional art forms such as sewing and book art, and a teen gaming area with the latest VR gear.” 

He said the library will have a new meeting room with a max capacity of 300 versus 90 in the previous library, a zero-noise quiet study room, a multipurpose studio for any type of program from cooking demonstrations to yoga and dance, and a new storytime area.

“This library is one of one,” Schuermann said. “Contractors and visitors share that they’ve never seen a library like this one, and in my 20 years as a librarian, I must confess I have not either.”

As the library prepares to move back home, its last day in the old Unity Elementary School will be on Sept. 9. In celebration of its reopening, the library will host a ribbon cutting on Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m. 

Schuermann urges people who currently have library materials out at this time to hold on to them while they make the transition to their new home.

“We are so excited, having worked on this for over four years now, to have the opportunity to finally give this gift back to the community. We hope that the community may embrace it, learn within these new walls, and just experience the joy of coming together at this new community hub,” Schuermann said.