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updated: 3/28/2014 5:43 PM

Asbestos gone, St. Charles library ready to re-open

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The St. Charles Public Library will reopen Saturday after closing for a week to handle an asbestos problem discovered during the course of renovations. Interior upgrades will continue for several more weeks as the library continues a process of using limited funds to adjust to community needs following rejection of an attempted tax increase in 2010.

New paint, furniture, light fixtures and computers are all parts of the renovation. But it was the addition of new carpeting in the reference desk area that spawned concerns about asbestos, library Director Pam Leffler said.

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"There was an understanding that the tile in that area could have had (asbestos), but there's always been carpeting on top," she said. "Because of difficulties in removing the carpeting, there was concern some tile might start to pop up or break, thus releasing the asbestos into the air."

The library closed its door for a week to remediate the problem. Officials gave the library the OK Friday morning for normal public use, but staff members spent the day doing some extra housekeeping so the building is as presentable as possible to the public. Leffler said the look and services of the library are the main focus now as library officials continue to contemplate the library's next move. The 2010 tax increase would have expanded the size of the library and given staff more operating funds with which to work.

"When the referendum failed, the library board took a step back and said, 'OK, the community isn't in a position to support a big expansion. What do we do with the space that we have?' "

The decision was to give the library a facelift. More group and small study space were placed high on the list. Dropping some old programs in favor of new ones is the current and ongoing agenda.

"The community has obviously spoken, and we're fine with that," Leffler said. "We just have to take a look at what we've been doing and see how to provide some of the things people are asking for. It's all a balancing act."

The library, at 1 S. 6th Ave., is scheduled to reopen at 9 a.m.

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