The renovated Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System will likely reopen in the early fall, after more than a year of the library operating in a temporary space across the street.
The renovated space on Main Street will feature floor-to-ceiling windows to let in natural light, a dedicated story time room and additional study rooms. The spiral staircase near the front entrance will remain, and the children’s section will be moved to the back of the building, further from the doors.
Library Director Lisa MacKinney said the renovated library will have three rooms for library programming and meetings, while the previous space had one. It will also have more space for youth services. While the genealogy department has been housed in the North Hall Technology Center during renovations, the reopened Gainesville branch will have a space for genealogy and local history research.
Large windows will offer views of downtown Gainesville and brighten up the space.
“We did a lot of focus groups when we first began planning the building and more light was one of the biggest things that we heard, was how to make it look lighter and more friendly,” MacKinney said.
The downtown library has been under construction since spring 2019, and for more than a year, the branch has been in a temporary location at 100 Brenau Ave. across the street. The renovations have involved heavy demolition, including the temporary removal of the exterior walls.
“We heard, ‘What happened? Was there a fire?’ We actually got those kinds of questions,” MacKinney said of the early stages of renovations. “Now, it’s just the opposite, and everybody is so excited about how gorgeous the outside looks.”
MacKinney said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inmate labor was unavailable for some portions of the project, and about $50,000 to $60,000 was used to find contractors for the work. There had already been room in the budget for that adjustment, she said.
The renovations are being funded by a $2 million grant from the University System of Georgia and about $3 million in city of Gainesville impact fees and county special purpose local option sales tax dollars.