Shoals Public Library reveals their completed downstairs renovation

SHOALS – The Shoals Public Library held an ” Spring Fling” Saturday to celebrate the renovations to the downstairs of the library.

The Shoals Public Library was constructed in 1914 and was a Carnegie Library

The Shoals Public Library originated in 1912 and the current building was built in 1914. The project preserved many of the original features of the library.

Shoals Public Library renovations were made possible by a community development grant of $8,000 through Hoosier Uplands.

Sylvia Albauth and Mary Holt work Saturday at the Shoals Public Library

Despite many obstacles along the way, the project is now complete with plans to expand the library still at the top of the list.

A vision to expand the library began approximately two years ago with the purchase of property that became available next to the library.

The purchase of the property was made possible thanks to the Smithville Foundation and Martin County Community Foundation.

From left to right, Jerry Braun, Martin County Community Foundation grant chairman, Jenell Hoffman, Martin County Community Foundation, Jenifer Boswell, president Friends of Shoals Library, and Mary Smith member Shoals Library board

A home next door was demolished and trees were cut down to be able to allow for an expansion of the building at a future time.

However, plans had to be placed on hold when COVID -19 hit.

“We were ready when a feasibility study was completed, and Office Community Rural Affairs ( OCRA) through Public Facilities Grant for that expansion. However, when COVID-19 hit they completely pulled the funding for that portion of the project. The funding is still suspended to divert those funds to the America Recovery Plan,” said Sylvia Albauth.

” Our plans for the expansion is on hold at this time,”

When the expansion was not going to happen in the time frame expected, library officials knew they needed the lower level to offer to the community for social distance meetings during the pandemic. The grant was written to make that possible for public use.

When the project for the lower level got started the boiler for the library broke and was beyond repair.

Due to this set back, the remodel of the downstairs had to be placed on hold while the library HVAC system was replaced with energy efficient heating and cooling system.

The old radiators for the library were replaced with new duct work.

UV lighting was installed throughout the library to help with COVID-19 mitigation.

Most of the labor for the project was completed by the “Friends of the Library” group.

After the heating and cooling system was replace, the priority could be focused on the basement, making it a community space.

“We are excited for the downstairs project to now be complete. We plan to have various community outreach programs in this newly renovated place,” said Albauth.

Several organizations that use the Shoals Public Library such as the Lions Club, SOAR, Girls Scouts, Sororities, Health Hiking, and Yoga class now have a designated place to use and practice social distance.

“As the look for the basement has changed, we are trying to get use to calling it our lower lobby. But, we are thankful Hoosier Uplands, Martin County Community Foundation, and Friends of the Library for partnering with us in this project.”

Eli Boswell listens to the audio of a book on the original Carnegie Stage

One of the many things preserved in this project was the old stage. Five layers of paint were stripped to bring back the hardwood stage to it original state.

“We believe we are the only library in the State of Indiana that still has their original stage. When Carnegie passed out money for libraries, one of the requirements for the lower level was to have entry stairs to advance to higher learning and an outside light that remains on 24/7. Most libraries have since torn out their stages.”

The stage is very small but is a great place to give awards and to conduct presentations according to library officials.

The library is working with Indiana University Center of Rural Engagement and Jacob School of Music.

Conner, Anne Bell, and Justin Boyd visit the new renovated lower level of Shoals Public Library Saturday

Currently, a virtual production of ” Anna and Her Shadow” is taking place at the library next month.

The stage is ready for the Jacob School of Music to have a small ensemble for the community.

The area is available for community use. Contact the library about reserving it for your group, club, or meeting.

On Saturday members of the public was treated with ice cream, punch, and give aways both for the adults and children.

The library has staff on hand to help people navigate Medicare and other healthcare insurance information.

Winners of the door prizes Saturday include Bobbi White, Jennell Hoffman and Jim Wadsworth.