Renovations moving forward

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library can close the chapter on the second phase of its Building Accessibility and Renovation Campaign. With a $100,000 Cliffs and Eagle Mine Marquette County Community Fund grant, phase three, to begin this spring, is expected to be fully funded.

The second phase – the creation of a programming room and handicap accessible bathrooms -is now complete but for a few loose ends, said library director John McNaughton.

McNaughton recognizes the size and scope of the renovation campaign, and said it led to the strategy of separating it into different phases.

“It’s kind of ambitious, but that’s why we’re breaking it down into phases,” he said.

Final figures aren’t in yet for the second phase, but McNaughton said they’re estimated to be around $148,000.

The next phase will be installing a handicap-accessible elevator, which McNaughton said is the final step in making the building Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.

“They’ll be able to take it to the first floor, and they will easily be able to go to the second floor, and the restrooms will be downstairs,” McNaughton said.

McNaughton said he was blown away when he discovered that the library had received the Cliffs grant.

Not all of the funding for the renovation campaign has come from conventional sources. When cleaning out the rooms on the first floor in preparation for Phase 2 of the project, workers discovered a bunch of old “Popple” maps from the 1800s. They were sent to Sotheby’s, the auction house in New York City, and the library received $78,000 for them.

McNaughton also attributed some of the success of the renovation project to a community that has been very supportive of the library.

“The community’s behind us, and a lot of libraries aren’t that fortunate,” he said.

Phase 4 will focus on climate control which McNaughton said will be “kind of tricky, because it’s a historical landmark and you don’t want to mess with that too much. And we want to keep that status, obviously. It’s important to us and the community.”

Phase 5, the final phase, will concentrate on “revamping of a lot of the electrical systems,” which McNaughton said are antiquated. with many of the lights are impossible to fix because replacement parts are no longer made and because the fixtures and wiring are so old.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.