The Georgetown County Library is gearing up to begin renovations on its main branch on Cleland Street. County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 12 to kick things off. Construction work is scheduled to begin by Feb. 1.
While the library will be able to remain open for approximately the first six months of construction, it will need to close for several months beginning this summer. Some of the main branch’s collection and operations, including its summer reading program and children’s services, will move to the Howard Center on Hawkins Street during that time.
“We’ll have access to the large auditorium there, so we’ll be able to do lots of exciting things there,” said Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County Library Director. “The really wonderful thing is that we’ll be able to establish closer relationships with the community around Howard as well.”
The 33-year-old library opened in 1989 and has since had only one minor period of renovation, in 2007. Decades of wear are starting to show across every inch of the facility from sagging ceilings to hazy light fixtures. The structure remains sound, but the renovations — which include a 3,120-foot expansion — will make it shine again.
“It needs a lot of TLC because people have loved it so much over the years,” McInvaill said. “It’s really going to sparkle again when it’s done.”
Work is expected to take about a year, he added.
The renovations will be funded though $869,425 in capital sales tax dollars, $568,502 in American Rescue Plan Act funds and a $1.4 million bequest from the late Jean Flournoy Moody, which was received several years ago. Moody was an almost daily visitor to the library. She participated extensively in library programs, donated to the Friends of the Library and adored the library staff members.
The Moody money will be spent mainly on the expansion. The extra space will allow for a new, large meeting room and administrative complex between the library’s current footprint and Church Street. The remainder of the funding will be used for refurbishment and reorganization of the existing 19,330-square-foot building. Resulting spaces will include a new digital video production center, an enlargement of the local history research room and improved storage and scanning areas for the Georgetown County Digital Library, which focuses on historical documents and photographs. In addition, there will be expanded children’s and teen areas.
Other improvements will be made throughout the existing structure including reconfigured floor plans for basic library services, new conference room facilities, automated entry doors, high-grade vinyl flooring throughout, bathroom upgrades, LED lighting, ceiling panel replacements, new HVAC systems, wallpaper removal and painting, exterior repairs and cleaning, new furniture and fixtures, and more needed enhancements.
McInvaill said he believes Mrs. Moody would be delighted with what her bequest is accomplishing at the library she loved.