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posted: 2/14/2014 6:00 AM

Roselle library urging patrons to try out new seats

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You know that chair you have in the corner, the one that looks like it floated ashore from the Titanic or survived a zombie invasion? The one you'd gladly put out at the curb if you weren't mortified your neighbors would see it?

Amy Cawley understands how you feel.

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The director of the Roselle Public Library has spotted a few such chairs around her own facility, seats that are so old the fabric rips at the very thought of being scrubbed.

It's not that the staff doesn't like them, it's just that most of the chairs have been around since the library at 40 S. Park St. was last remodeled in 1997. Face it: You wouldn't look so hot, either, if people had been sitting on you for the past 17 years.

"At this point, we can't clean them anymore," Cawley says. "Some are so stained it's really icky."

Since hardly anyone likes sitting on icky chairs, the board of trustees and staff are planning an "interior rejuvenation" at the library that will include new seating in the adult services and teen areas.

The project also will feature new flooring in places where the carpeting has become as badly worn as Rip Taylor's toupee, namely in meeting and conference rooms and the areas behind the circulation desk and in the circulation workroom.

To help with that process, the library is putting samples of various chair styles on display and inviting patrons to have a seat and test them for comfort, practicality and whatever else you look for in a quality chair, stool or ottoman.

Starting this week, and continuing for at least the next month or so, visitors will be able to try out all sorts of chairs and then fill out ballots designed by library Marketing Manager Lin Drogos to vote for their favorites.

Patrons who complete the ballots, which are available at the circulation desk, are eligible for a drawing for one of five, $5 Dunkin' Donuts gift cards.

Cawley says three samples went on display Monday and new ones are expected to cycle in and out as they become available from different manufacturers.

It's kind of a twist on the old Goldilocks story -- minus the threat of being eaten by a family of bears. This chair's too soft. This chair's too hard. Ooooooh, this chair's just right!

"The public can come in, sit in the chairs and tell us if it's comfortable or if, oh my gosh, it's awful," Cawley says.

The library is working with an architectural and engineering company called Dewberry that's serving as designer for the project.

Money for the furniture and flooring is coming from the Lillian Campbell Bequest fund and cash the board has squirreled away over the past four years for this specific purpose.

Cawley says a fair number of visitors already have tried some of the seating options. The director herself says she's a big fan of a stool that could be used in the teen area that has a slightly bigger seat than most and "makes you sit up straighter."

If all goes well, Cawley says the renovations should be finished by fall and the library will be able to remain open through most or all of the work.

Besides giving the place a fresher look, she says there's a side benefit to the project, too. Folks who come in to take a load off also might be tempted to check out what the library has to offer besides really, really comfortable -- and icky-free -- chairs.

"We want to encourage residents to realize we are Roselle's library," she says, "and for them to come in and see what we have."

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