The interior of the Southgate Veterans Memorial Library has a new look. When the building reopened to patrons Aug. 3, they were greeted with new carpet, fresh paint and some improvements to the young children’s area.
“New carpet was definitely needed,” said library director Donald Priest. “The old carpet was more than 20 years old. It was worn out and ripped in several places.”
A new look for the library’s interior had been in the works for the past couple of years. The plan was to slowly close off areas of the library, replacing carpet and painting one area at a time.
Replacing carpet and painting in a library are not particularly easy. It usually requires limiting access to certain areas of the library.
“Once it became clear that the pandemic situation was going to last longer than originally thought, city administration decided it would be a good time to go ahead and tackle the entire carpet and painting project all at once,” Priest said.
With the library closed to the public for an indefinite amount of time, access to materials inside the library would not present a problem.
“It was the perfect opportunity for these renovations, rather than going through the trouble of spreading the work out and closing periodically over time,” he said.
During the pandemic closure, which lasted for almost five months, the library staff made a strong effort to stay connected with patrons online. Their Facebook page, Facebook.com/SouthgateLibrary, remained active.
Since the beginning of the year, the library has added some new digital services to their offerings. Digital services became more important during the closure, as patrons were not able to access physical books and other materials at all.
“We emphasized our digital collection, available primarily through Hoopla, Download Destination and RBDigital Services, which allow patrons to borrow electronic books, audiobooks, movies, magazines and more from the comfort of their homes,” said Priest.
Like many libraries, Southgate Veterans Memorial Library also has begun offering curbside pickup for materials on hold.
“Patrons can call us from their vehicle and have previously requested items brought out to them,” he said. “This allows them to have contact with only one staff member. It’s been successful and is likely a service we’ll continue even after the pandemic situation ends.”
Additionally, the library was able to offer a virtual Summer Reading Program with several events held online. Kids also can still sign up to do some reading and earn prizes through Sept. 12. The library hopes to offer more virtual programs this fall.
“The changes to the inside of the library, especially the new carpet, have given the library a totally new look and feel,” said Priest. “It’s brighter and more inviting. Shifting some of the shelves and furniture also has made the library look larger, with more open space.”
Because of restrictions on how many people can be in the library at one time and for how long, the changes in the children’s area haven’t had much effect yet.
“Once more people begin visiting and some restrictions on visits are removed, we hope the children’s area will be a pleasant area for kids to browse and relax in. We have several large pillows and other seating sized for kids to relax on.”
The new look of the library has gotten positive reviews from many of the patrons who have come in to visit since Aug. 3.
Full information on current services and restrictions is available at southgate.lib.mi.us.
“As I’m sure everyone realizes, the situation is constantly changing. We hope to slowly begin offering more services and increase hours of operation as time passes. It’s a good idea to check the website periodically or give us a call when we’re open to see what’s changed,” Priest said.
“We’re taking things day by day, making sure to remain cautious and safe, for the benefit of patrons and staff alike.”
To see the updates at Southgate Veterans Memorial Library in person, visit at 14680 Dix-Toledo Road. Check out their website, southgate.lib.mi.us, for up to date information on digital offerings. And visit their Facebook page for photos and other online content.