Belleville

‘Hidden treasures’: Belleville library renovations finished

Sandra Boudouris, who has visited the Belleville Public Library since the 1960s, is impressed with the renovations and new equipment at the library.

Boudouris was one of the visitors on Friday during an open house showing off the improvements that cost about $1.1 million.

“I’m glad that they have the computers,” Boudouris said. “I think that they’re well utilized.”

When she has a question about the equipment, she said library employees jump right in to assist her.

Boudouris also is glad the library kept intact the Carnegie building erected in 1917 at 121 E. Washington St.

Library Director Lee Spearman said the renovations include a multimedia lab, tuck pointing and new roofing, carpeting, painting, furniture and computers. Decorative terra cotta was restored, oak shelving was repurposed into display cases and a piece of the original stained glass skylight was installed into a wall in the multimedia lab.

The multimedia lab has a 3D printer and equipment that allows you to convert VHS tapes to DVD, vinyl records to mp3, pictures into digital files and audio cassettes into mp3 files. Patrons also can create a video commercial.

The lab is open to residents and non-residents. You can bring a blank DVD or CD or buy one at the library. The 3D printer items cost 20 cents a gram.

Spearman said the west branch at 3414 W. Main St. had some minor improvements, because the project at the main library came in under budget. The west branch work included new paint, carpet, wiring and some furniture.

The library upgrades were funded by a $592,000 state grant, $300,000 in tax increment funds from the city, $100,000 in private donations and the remainder came from the library fund.

Mayor Mark Eckert said there is a “good partnership” between the library board and the City Council.

“It’s a blessing to our whole culture and education of our community,” Eckert said of the city’s libraries. “It’s unbelievable.”

Spearman said the 178-year-old Belleville library system has “something for everybody” to use and enjoy.

“Libraries are really hidden treasures of communities,” he said.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at mkoziatek@bnd.com or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.

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