Published: June 12, 2018

A construction notice that includes a floor plan of the impacted areas in Norlin Library.It’s an exciting summer in Norlin!  If you visit us in the next few weeks, there’s a good chance you will run into some signs of construction.  There might be a wheelbarrow going down the hall, tents in the reading room and occasionally a faint buzzing sound that sounds remarkably like a dentist drill.

Our main projects:

  • Renovating and enlarging the 2nd floor restrooms—including an all-gender restroom.
  • Remodeling a popular balcony study area on the 3rd floor balcony—and recarpeting most of the 3rd floor including 12,000 square feet of books stacks.

Now, can you imagine how you would rip out all of this 1970’s glued-down orange carpet off concrete around all those book shelves and not spread a tremendous amount of orange fibrous dust all over the books?  You know, our collection is essentially the State of Colorado’s “collection of record” and we need to do everything we can to preserve it. We’ve tested some areas with the Libraries Preservation Unit and have a plan to contain as much dust as possible.

Anything we do in our building inevitably involves asbestos. The bathroom plumbing is in a void below the bathroom. I believe it used to be a roof when there was a lawn around the outside of our bay windows. We reclaimed 2,000 square feet from asbestos by encapsulating it under an impervious barrier. So we will not only get new enlarged bathrooms, but the space to service the new plumbing as well!  

My hats are off to Facilities Management’s project management team—Blake Guyer, specifically—for helping us to juggle all these big projects and making sure we do them right. Also, our contractors have played a huge role. Robert Szynskie our abatement contractor, found a way to do our project just a little over budget—other proposals would have been out of reach for us financially.  And Eric Tabler, with Sun Construction, is the guy who makes sure all this tenting, dust containment around the library is working.  Come see his crew’s circus tent abilities!  Eric is also the one who keeps the dentist drilling muffled after 9AM —whenever possible.

Tenting in Norlin Library to reduce dust during renovation

We still have lots of quiet places to study in Norlin in spite of the construction. The art library, areas inside the bay windows, our new Children’s and Young adult collection area and even the reading room outside my office on the first floor (SW) are all still quiet with the low number of  summer school students. Well, I say, “quiet,” but you might hear me doing some friendly arguing with Eric outside my office. And thankfully the Commons is a mostly quiet, collaborative space—open till midnight Sunday through Thursday, with tasteful music from the Laughing Goat café.

When you come to the Libraries this summer you might even become aware of some of our other projects: North side site water mitigation, chilled water pump move, phase two of our under-carpet power system (Thread) in the Research area,  new People Counters at our entrances—including the branches, upgrading technology in our study rooms, new wall-to-wall white board coverings in classrooms, lots of new furniture installations, painting the Art Library and new counter tops, HVAC study project for the basement study area and more. Just a typically busy summer in the Libraries!

Carl Stewart
Libraries Facilities Manager