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East Lake Community Library revels in $500,000 upgrade

EAST LAKE — Rob Moore sat reading in the East Lake Community Library, next to the facility's community room, unaware of the mayhem happening on the other side of the wall.

The Palm Harbor resident quickly sat upright, however, when Cheryl Dorweiler, a children's librarian, swung open the community room door and let about 30 raucous kids playing with Legos be seen — and heard — for a moment.

However, the door was quickly shut and Moore was once again enveloped in quiet.

"I saw a few children enter with some adults earlier, but I had no idea so many children were here,'' said Moore, 75. "I've been busy reading, and they have not disturbed me at all.''

That's music to Dorweiler's ears. She's still getting used to the newly expanded East Lake Community Library, including its new soundproof community room.

"For several years, we had to let the kids play with Legos in the main library. I don't mind the chaos, but with the new room, I think it's nicer for patrons,'' she said.

Her Wednesday Lego Club is just one of several programs now being held in the expanded section of the library. On Oct. 15, the community celebrated a grand re-opening of the library after $500,000 worth of renovations were completed.

Expanding from 4,500 square feet to 6,500 square feet might not seem like much, especially when you compare it to the last major North Pinellas library project — the 2008 construction of a new Oldsmar Public Library, a 19,000-square-foot beauty.

However, to residents of unincorporated East Lake, the expansion was huge. The money was gathered from several sources, including $300,000 from the Pinellas County Library Cooperative, $86,000 from the Friends of East Lake Community Library and $150,000 from the library's own capital fund.

"We're tiny, but we're mighty,'' said Patricia Perez, the library's director. "We are this small because we, in East Lake, are not connected to any city. What we do have is the goodwill of the county.''

The work was done by Hennessy Construction. Here's what the new digs include:

• A newly enclosed, 250-square-foot, vaulted entryway. When visitors enter, they are immediately in an area that also serves as the Book Nook, a command central for the Friends of the Library's fundraisers.

• An expanded, 20-foot-long check in/check out station. Before the renovations, librarians working in this area were forced to constantly rub elbows at two small front counters. "Now everyone has room to breathe,'' said Perez, 59.

• A new 734-square-foot work area divided into several offices and a staff lunch room. "It used to be that our desks were right behind the front counter, in the public's view, and to make it worse, every time we needed to stand up, we felt like we needed to let whomever we were working next to know by saying something like, 'I'm going to get up now, excuse me,' '' Perez said.

• And the icing on the cake is the 1,000-square-foot, soundproofed community room, according to Perez. "Everyone is very excited about using the new room. The kids who are in our Lego Club are a perfect example of why we needed that space,'' she said. "We can also rent out the room to outside groups, so it's a money generator, too.''

Palm Harbor native Lauri Naumec, who was checking out a Kindle from the library on Wednesday, is pleased to see that "the library is growing with the community,'' she said.

"I remember years ago when (East Lake) was made up of small roads with fields. It is still growing, and probably in the future there will be a need for another library expansion, but right now this fits our size. We're still a small, close-knit community,'' said Naumec, 38.

Perez, who spent several weeks working in a trailer while construction was going on, laughs at the thought of a future expansion.

"I think we're going to ask for some time to enjoy this, to enjoy what we now, finally, have,'' she said.

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or pcastillo@sptimes.com.

If you go

The East Lake Community Library, 4125 East Lake Road, is holding its Authors Holiday Book Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 12 at its newly renovated facility. Highlights include:

• Sixteen authors.

• At 11 a.m., former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio will speak and sign her new book, Straightforward: Ways to Live and Lead.

For more information: Call (727) 773-2665.

East Lake Community Library revels in $500,000 upgrade 11/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 7:42pm]
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