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Gainesville library getting updated look, but this loved feature to remain
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Ceiling tiles and lighting fixtures have been removed from a portion of the Hall County Library main branch Thursday, April 25, 2019, as renovation of the late 1960s building begins the early stages. - photo by Scott Rogers

Demolition is underway and construction has begun on renovations at the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System.

While the library will be getting an updated look, one iconic feature will be staying — the spiral staircase that wraps around the elevator.

“When we did our focus groups, the No. 1 question was, ‘What about the staircase? We love the staircase,’” Library Director Lisa MacKinney said.

Getting rid of the stairwell was never really considered because of its place in the building structure, MacKinney said.

“It’s such a critical part of the layout of the building,” she said. “It would have been an expensive endeavor to try to redo that.”

Now, the library is empty, surrounded by a construction fence while crews work inside. But Gainesville library patrons don’t have to go far.

On April 1, a temporary library opened at 100 Brenau Ave., the former Turner, Wood & Smith building across the street from the library. MacKinney said staff and patrons are settling in at the new location.

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Scroggs & Grizzel Contracting have erected a fence around the Hall County Library main branch Thursday, April 25, 2019, as the early stages of renovation begins on the roughly 50-year-old building. - photo by Scott Rogers

“We’re still moving things around and figuring out the best flow, but we’re doing really well,” she said. “People are starting to find us.”

The temporary library has separate youth and adult sections and is equipped with computers and circulation desks where patrons can go for help. The genealogy section has been temporarily moved to the North Hall Technology Center and some duplicate items are in storage to save space, but the community can still check out and return books at the temporary library.

The renovated library will be designed by Vivre Interiors, the same company that designed the North Hall Technology Center. The library will have a more contemporary look, including stained concrete steps on the stairwell and exposed white brick columns.

“As much brightening as we can get, the better,” interior designer Cortney Orme said.

Another feature that will brighten the building will be the new double-pane windows, which will change the look of the exterior.

Orme said the children’s area of the library will have a “young” feel with pops of color from brighter furniture. One focus of the renovations is enhancing the children’s area by adding a story time room and isolating it a little more from the rest of the library.

The $4 million in renovations will be funded by a $2 million grant from the University System of Georgia and $2 million in city of Gainesville impact fees and county special purpose local option sales tax dollars.

The library is due to reopen in summer 2020.