A Look at Library Renovations

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SCRANTON -- The Albright Memorial Library in downtown Scranton will be closed for the next month as crews work on renovations inside the building. The improvements are being made ahead of the library's 125th anniversary.

Plastic now covers much of the inside of the building on North Washington Avenue that John J. Albright donated to Scranton in 1893.

Director Jack Finnerty says, in all that time, the library's never lost Mr. Albright's vision.

"While Albright was very interested in the architecture and the aesthetics of the building, the thing that really moved him was its use. I think the sacred part of this whole thing is not the collection, not the building even, it's the use," Finnerty said.

So, the point of the library's $500,000 renovation is twofold -- maintain the building's architecture and make it better for patrons to use.

There will be a new circulation desk and new bathrooms, and most of the woodwork will be redone for the first time in 125 years.

In the internet age, Albright Library doesn't need as much space for books and in removing some of the old built-in bookcases, workers found some beautiful secrets.

Instead of being filled with bookcases and desktops, one room will have a new purpose when the work is done.

"It was the reference department, where all the kids from the high schools would be at the tables doing their term papers. It doesn't work that way anymore, so now it's going back to being, essentially, event-driven, like a lecture hall."

While the work is being done, Albright's reference desk has been moved next door to the Children's Library on Vine Street. A makeshift computer lab has been set up in the basement.

"It would be more convenient, and the upgrades that the building does deserve to have, which makes it easier for all of us who come and use the library," said Michael Lewis.

Albright Memorial Library is set to reopen on December 31.

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