No specific completion date has been set yet, but Pasco County library officials expect the makeover of the New River Branch Library to be wrapped up by the end of this year.
The library, at 34043 State Road 54, sits on the edge of Wesley Chapel — not far from Zephyrhills.
Workers are busy on a massive remodeling that began last fall.
The total cost for the project, including design, construction, furnishing, technology and other associated expenses is approximately $2.8 million, said Bob Harrison, program manager for the Pasco County Library System.
All seven county libraries are slated for substantial improvement, using funds generated from General Obligation bonds approved by voters in November 2018.
When the New River renovation is finished, patrons will notice a number of obvious improvements, such as faster Internet speeds, a covered walkway, a makerspace that opens into a shaded “classroom” that opens into a much larger community garden.
Improvements also include an upgraded air-conditioning, heating and ventilation system.
Like just about everything else in life these days, the project has been affected by impacts of COVID-19.
“We had some manufacturers that had shut down for a time,” Harrison said.
That shutdown caused a delay in getting supplies needed for the library project, Harrison explained.
When the library reopens, it will offer much more than books, said Harrison, who is excited about what await patrons when operations resume.
Libraries are literacy centers and social hubs, he said.
Libraries are places where children come for story time, job seekers come to research new opportunities and entrepreneurs come to learn from experienced business mentors who offer free workshops.
Libraries also offer a host of special events, such as arts and crafts, movies and lectures.
They’re also a popular gathering spot for community organizations to hold meetings.
And, libraries are a common venue, too, for business mentors who offer free workshops to share their business knowledge and expertise with less-experienced entrepreneurs.
Of course, beyond the books and other media that patrons can borrow, visitors also can consult reference materials and use technology to help with research.
The upgrade includes expanding the community garden, which once had about six raised beds, to have more than two dozen.
About half of those will be for workshops and demonstrations. The rest will be open to people who want to grow flowers or vegetables.
A project to plant fruit trees at New River is expected to continue.
And, a new children’s activity, Story Walk, will allow children to follow a winding path where they will stop at stations and read pages from a storybook.
While the New River Branch has been closed, patrons have been frequenting other libraries, Harrison said, noting some have been using the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library, while others have used the Hugh Embry Branch in Dade City, or the Zephyrhills Library, operated by the City of Zephyrhills.
For more information on New River and video on renovations, visit Facebook.com/newriverlibrary.
Published August 19, 2020