Sparta Free Library construction continues Director lays out year-long schedule


On Friday, January 26th, Michelle Tryggestad, Director of the Sparta free Library, sat down with the Monroe County Herald and discussed where the Sparta Free Library is on current construction, and what the community and passersby can expect to see in the coming days and months, on their tentative timeline. The interview took place on the second level of the library, overlooking the slushy construction zone, where squishy mud and a mild mist painted a loathsome picture, directly countered by the heartening decrees and declarations by Tryggestad.

On the addition, which is taking place on the eastern perimeter of the Carnegie building, Tryggestad explained, “Right now, all of the under-slab plumbing is in place, and the under-slab electric will be going in next. As we speak, the elevator shaft is going in, surrounded by the scaffolding you see, near the front of the building.”

Everyone is Ready 

Michelle began the session by stating that structural steel will show up next week, as we head into February. “It [structural steel] is already here, in Sparta. It has been stored at both Americon and city storage facilities. They will be bringing that into our very tight [construction] zone next week.”

Director Tryggestad explained to the Herald that everyone involved with the tangible aspects of the construction have been busy, behind the scenes, getting the items needed to complete their tasks in the realm of their responsibility. “There has been a lot going on that people haven’t seen yet,” Tryggestad remarked. “Our contractors and subcontractors have ordered all the items they will need, and have them sitting in storage, on standby. They have also been coordinating all the steps on how they will proceed as soon as they are given the green light … they are ready, in all aspects.”

Wall Smash Pending

In addition to speaking on all contractors and subcontractors chomping at the bit to put forth their due diligence, Michelle expounded on the grand undertaking. “As soon as the structural steel is delivered, everyone will see those outer walls go up. Once the walls are up, they will pour the two floors, which they will do at the same time. Then we will break into this wall, which is why this is all empty.” Michelle was referring to the eastern wall, where the interview was taking place. There were bookshelves that stood bookless, simply waiting on relocation before the wall they are currently snugged up against, crumbled and tumbled, providing the fresh access point between the current Carnegie structure and the addition.

Tryggestad stated, “We are looking for that wall to come down around March, which will allow for the flow of the construction, between the two structures, to begin. We will put in a temporary wall of course, before this is all takes place.”

Proof of Needed Remodel

Director Tryggestad said that in addition to all the new construction, there were other areas that will be updated in the current Carnegie building, and a recent occurrence proved how much those updates are needed. “With the recent lovely rain, we had a waterfall cascading inside the building, on the south side because we have old gutter and ceiling systems. When the remodel takes place, that will be further addressed.”

Although the rain brought a less than favorable reminder of the much-needed remodel, Tryggestad was quick to point out that rain is not the worst weather to have during construction. “Rain is a lot better than the bitter temperatures that have encumbered our construction efforts,” she informed the Herald. “Our crews can work in rain, but in that bitter cold — not so much.”

Michelle then relayed the next big tentative date for the extensive project. “That new portion [the addition] will be ready to move into, in October. So, we will take what you see in here and transfer it over there … or store it,” she quipped. “They [contractors] will then come in and it will take them three months to remodel this space and then we will reconfigure everything. So, it will be interesting for a while.”

Tryggestad then told the Herald that, “They are looking at next January as being completely done and moved off of the site.”

What to Expect from the added Space 

When pressed by the Herald on what changes the community can expect to see, as a result of the structural addition and remodeled space, Tryggestad said, “We have done some really smart design moves. We wanted to keep that old, historical aspect, but also reconfigure things a little bit.” Tryggestad then described the plans. “Downstairs, in what is now our children’s area, will become our new programming space. We will be able to divide that into two sections, so that we can have a children’s program going on and a totally different adult or teen program in the other.” Tryggestad quipped that they have been using one little multi-purpose room, and that the room has “Done it all.”

One of the more unique additions will be the full kitchen in the program room, with the possibility of community members being able to use the space for an event.

On the children’s current space, Michelle said that the area is so jammed that they do not even have room to display a book. “All you can see now are the skinny spines of the books. It will be so nice to be able to display the front of the books. Kids, and even adults, like to be able to see the art on those book covers. We are visual, as human beings, and that cover sells it [the book] to us.”

Discovery Zone

Tryggestad also brought up the new Discovery Zone, which will be sponsored in part by Kwik Trip and by the Shovelmen. “We will have a dedicated area where kids can explore and discover many different things, including career paths. Currently, we only have a movable shop front, where we swap out different things for them [the kids] to look at.”

The answer is Space

During the Herald’s gleaning of knowledge from Director Tryggestad, it was obvious that what they have been after, for a while, at the Sparta Free Library, is space. “As you can, our computers are right next to each other, offering very little privacy for those who come here to get work done,” Tryggestad said. “We are going to have study rooms as well. Where you see our circulation desk [where books are returned and checked out] that space will become two study rooms, where people can have some quiet and privacy. They may even Zoom with their doctor, in a private setting, away from noisy areas.”

Tryggestad also mentioned that there will be donor-sponsored conference rooms that may be used for interviews or a meeting, with at-home businesses. “We provide very reliable WIFI here at the Sparta Free Library. It will be comfortable, quiet, and private for them. The coffee shops can get noisy at times, so we offer an alternative venue that is very reliable.”

“There are individuals that run their businesses out of their home, and sometimes they need to get away from the kiddos, in order to concentrate and be effective. We offer that here.”

Teen Room

Michelle pointed out the small space, in the front - south-east corner of the Carnegie building, informing the Herald that that was the current teen room in the library. She said that on Wednesday nights it will be so packed, that the teens will overflow into the Carnegie room and other areas of the library. Then she pointed out the back, north-west area of the building. “That whole section over there will be the new teen room,” she started out. “It will have floor-to-ceiling windows, with two large doors, giving them their own space, with a separation from the rest of the library visitors. We love having them here.”

Michelle was quick to point out that the new addition will also have a massive window, as well. The eastern elephantine window will frame many sunrises, giving early library goers quite a view. “It will be a really good space, where people can read the newspaper, listen to nice music on their earbuds, and enjoy the sunrise.”

Staff Included

Director Tryggestad explained to the Herald that the library staff works, and has been working, in cramped conditions. “[The additions and remodel] will be providing staff with those workroom spaces that are so needed now. We are so cramped tight in both of our circulation desk areas.” Even though she is the director of the Sparta Free Library, Michelle’s office is a remodeled closet that is difficult to even locate, sandwiched between two bookshelves.

Elevator going up

With the addition, laws and regulations stipulated that the elevator needed to be in closer proximity to the new parking area. This is the reason for the new elevator being built on the eastern side of the building. “The old elevator is getting a little quirky, so this is a positive action,” Tryggestad stated. “We will turn the old elevator space into storage, on both floors.”

Editor’s Note

My interview with Michelle was very informative, in both the plans for the construction and what the finished-future structure will look like, for both the community and the staff members. I think what gets overlooked about the library is its importance to a vast majority of the community. Not everyone has a computer, and the library provides for these community members. Not everyone has a quiet space at home, so if they are running a home business or need to get schoolwork done for college or high school, the library provides that space for them. Not all families have relatives here in Sparta, and the library provides a vast space and resources for them to accomplish tasks or even just catch a breather from the hectic every-day.

The library has open arms, welcoming those in need of a space for reading, studying, group meetings, and family activities, providing both privacy and areas for use as a social gathering. The library lets the lonely know that they are not alone; the teens know that we see them and understand the importance and sanctity of their privacy; the writers, dreamers and creators to know that their talents deserve fostering, inspiration and space; and the kids know that the magical reality they live in can be captured in books, craft sessions, movie events, story time and art.

Benny Mailman, Finding 42, Sparta Free Library, Michelle Tryggestad, Monroe County Herald, Sparta library, Sparta, expansion project, remodel, Sparta City Council


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