Newly renovated LaGrange Memorial Library reopens 

Published 7:13 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

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Four years in the making, the newly renovated LaGrange Memorial Library officially opened its doors on Friday morning to the joy of local readers.

Troup-Harris Library Director Keith Schuermann cut the ribbon on the completely renovated facility, which includes new meeting rooms, maker spaces, a game room, quiet rooms, separate computer labs for research and instruction, and of course, books — lots of them.

Schuermann said they were able to include several design elements in the library based on community feedback. He said community members asked for more light, more color and a larger meeting room.

“This library is dripping with colorful forms that really help engage children in particular,” Schuermann said.

Drawing kids to the library was a focus with the renovations and spaces within. The new kids section of the library features a colorful new story-time area and an outdoor enclosed play area. For older kids, the library has a new teen gaming area with the latest in VR gear, perfect for after-school play.

Makers will also have their own spaces within the library with a Maker Mill that focuses on emerging and interactive technologies and a Creation Station that focuses on more traditional crafting like sewing, knitting and scrapbooking.

The library also has a large new meeting room with a capacity of 300, more than three times the size of the previous library.

Programing spaces were also a community request. The library has a new multipurpose studio, perfect for programming ranging from cooking instruction to yoga and dance.

For traditional library users, the new facility has a zero-noise quiet study room as well as semi-private booth seating, perfect for study groups.

The library was at its temporary site in the former Unity Elementary School for over two years community, so Schuermann said he and the staff are happy to be home.

Schuermann said the biggest challenge in the library renovation project was inflation. When the project was first planned, it was expected to cost around $6.8 million. All in all, it ended up costing around $8 million, and that’s with over a million dollars worth of features that were eliminated due to costs.

The costs jumped roughly 17 percent from when the project began but that was over four years from 2019 to 2013, Schuermann said.

“We’re really proud to have been good stewards of those funds and keep that budget in line as much as we could,” Schuermann said.

“I think it’s money well spent,” LaGrange Mayor Willie Edmondson said. “The county, the Callaway Foundation, and the city working together brought all this to fruition. Every time the county put money in, the city put in money as well … We have to support the library.”

“It is a large investment,” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said. “I think communities are often judged by few things education, medical, and I think the library is something that people look at as a good sign of a healthy community.”

“Between the Callaway Foundation, the city and all of our partners, we all pool our money to make these things happen,” Crews said.

School Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate described the new library as a gem for the entire community, including the school system.

“We partner with the library on different things, but this space is unbelievable. They did a great job,” Shumate said. “I’m proud of the work that everybody has done with the city, the county and the Callaway Foundation’s support. Keith did a great job of leading that entire charge given all the circumstances then construction delays and cost overruns and all that just because of inflation.”

“I think this building is really symbolic for the entire county, and it’s important, and of course, we plan to partner with them in any way we can,” the superintendent said.