Library projects underway; shared catalog transition in September; Community Conversations project in the works

The Great Falls Public Library is adding a drive-through at the back of the library by converting the old back book drop into a space that can be used for book pickup.

The $14,917 contract was awarded to Detailed Construction during the Aug. 18 meeting and the projected completion date is Oct. 31.

The library received a $10,000 state coronavirus relief funds grant for the project. The remaining $5,000 is being funded with donations, according to Library Director Susie McIntyre.

Great Falls library encouraging patrons to return after eliminating late fines

The drive through won’t be staffed regularly, but will have a call button for patrons to push and a staffer will come talk to them.

McIntyre said it will be similar to their curbside service but without physical contact.

The library also received bids for the project to repair the basement flooding. The low bid was $66,178 from Capcon Construction, which is well within the library’s available resources for the project.

Great Falls library continuing repair, remodel projects

The library had received an $85,000 donation for the project contingent on the library eliminating late fines, which happened earlier this summer, and the contract will be considered at the Sept. 1 commission meeting.

McIntyre said she was “so happy with that number” since an estimate from an energy audit a few years ago put the project at $165,000.

Library eliminating late fines,planning major repair for basement flooding

The project includes fixing a leak around the storm drain pipe in the basement and water rising through cracks and expansion joints in the basement concrete.

The project also includes addressing ground water that’s seeping into the basement with sump pumps and a french drain.

Great Falls library joining statewide shared catalog; considering eliminating late fines; added courtesy parking; considering major repairs

The project will require trenching into the street and fixing what is at least a bent pipe and possible a main break in the middle of 2nd Avenue North.

The flooding has been a significant issue for years and McIntyre said that there’s water in the basement 3-6 months out of the year. During major rain events, staff has had to stand in the basement with buckets and mops trying to block the water gushing into the basement.

McIntyre said the library is also partnering with the Montana State Library and Forward Montana on a pilot project to increase civic engagement in the community by creating a Community Conversations project modeled on the American Library Association’s Community Conversation Workbook.

McIntyre said they started discussions on the project before the COVID-19 pandemic so now they’re working through ideas and logistics for conducting the program with COVID.

She said often times the same groups of people attend forums and events and that there are a lot of people in the community who aren’t engaged at all.

Informed Citizen series continues tonight with journalist panel at Great Falls library

They’re hoping to have 8-12 conversations with community members focusing on people who don’t always have their voices heard, McIntyre said.

She said they’re hoping to start the project in September, once the new Shared Catalog project is rolled out.

The Shared Catalog is through the state library and lowers costs for the Great Falls library since it shares software and allows greater access to materials.

But the transition to the new software is a big project. The library is closing Sept. 12 for the transition and won’t offer curbside on Sept. 14. The new system goes lives Sept. 15, she said.