ALBION — The newly renovated Albion Public Library is reopening Thursday after being closed over the year because of the coronavirus pandemic and construction.

“I don’t think any of us knew what was coming or what to do; we just knew we couldn’t be open,” said Rick Lawrence, the Albion library treasurer. “So opening this week is a real accomplishment.”

The library will open with limited hours, and will be open on Thursdays from 2-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9-11 a.m.

The library closed last year in late March, like many across the state and nation, because of the pandemic. And while the closure was disheartening, Lawrence said, it did allow for renovations to move at a faster pace.

The entirety of the building — not just the new section — has been redone: new LED lights, new carpet and a fresh coat of paint. In the existing section of the library, the books were removed, the shelves taken out and the whole area renovated.

Returning visitors will find the library is now twice the size it was prior to the renovation.

It used to be that the books not on the stacks were stored in the carriage house, but it wasn’t attached to the rest of the building.

“It was a 30-foot slog in the snow in the winter to part of our collection,” Lawrence said.

Now, the carriage house has been torn down, and the existing building was extended to include the space between the buildings and where the carriage house used to stand.

The library’s collection comes in at more than 11,000 books, and in a typical year the library serves around 1,500 patrons.

Signage announces the reopening of the Albion Public Library. The library, which has doubled its space, has been closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

The whole building is light, bright and inviting; featuring a whole room for fiction, tables and chairs for patrons and a section for children’s books — although the library is still looking for children’s furniture and is accepting donations. There’s plenty of windows, letting in so much sun that some days the lights aren’t needed at all.

The renovations came in under budget, costing just under $230,000, some of which comes from fundraising and grants the library received.

The building now features solar panels on the roof as well, which will provide the electricity and heating for the library. On sunny summer days, the panels will create an excess of energy.

Lawrence said that he is hopeful that people will return to the library and it can become the gathering place it was before.

Up to nine people, including staff, are allowed inside the library at the same time because of pandemic restrictions, and masks are required.

“I hope we’ll have interest enough to re-stimulate, because we’ve got much more space and a lot more to offer,” Lawrence said.

He is looking forward to reopening, but said he will be more excited when they can hold a full celebration with all those who helped make the renovation happen.

Last week, the Boy Scouts came by to rake the yard out front of the library. Lawrence invited them in for a quick tour and the boys were very impressed, and seemed eager to return.

“We’re really anxious to have people come back,” Lawrence said. “When the Scouts came by to rake, I just took them through the place and they were just awestruck.”


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