Beth McCracken started skipping across the floor during a recent tour of the renovated Hastings Public Library.
“Is that your happy dance?” library director Amy Hafer asked her.
“One of them,” the HPL education librarian responded.
Neither woman could stop smiling while touring the downtown building that has been closed since Feb. 24, 2016. Since March 24, 2016, the library has operated out of the Hastings Museum’s east gallery.
“I don’t think you can prepare yourself for how excited you feel when you see the almost-finished product because I think you’re caught up in the details of the planning and so you think you’re just going to be bogged down in the details forever,” Hafer said. “When you see the almost-finished product it brings back to home all that you’ve been working toward. It’s so gratifying and so exciting you can’t put into words what it means that this is going to be in your community and what it means that this is going to be your library.”
Even seeing new bookends with rubber clamps that are easier to move than the old bookends made her happy.
“It really is the little things,” she said.
McCracken said seeing the almost-finished library brings to mind the transition of paper to reality.
“I’m very visual, so seeing something on paper and then seeing it in real life makes it more exciting,” she said.
In addition to donations, the city’s current half-cent sales tax helped fund the $5.7 million library renovation.
Each year, the sales tax generates about $1.7 million. Currently, 60 percent of that revenue goes to street repairs, 25 percent to Duncan Field renovations and 15 percent to Hastings Public Library renovations.
Shelving began arriving Aug. 7, the installation of which is scheduled to take two weeks of four 10-hour days.
The final furniture installation is scheduled for Sept. 6.
The museum’s east gallery will close Sept. 11. Library staff will work out of the Abbott Room, so the community will have access to DVDs, newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, wireless internet, holds, returns and other basic services.
The library will be closed all day Sept. 28 for staff training.
The library will close to the public Oct. 1 for the final move of all materials and staff items remaining at the museum.
The downtown building is anticipated to open toward the end of October.
“We’ve enjoyed our time at the museum but that time has come and gone,” Hafer said. “(Staff) are so excited about the new opportunities, the new technologies, the new carpet, the new shelves — just having new things. It’s like back to school shopping for them in a way, having new stuff to play with and to work with.”
Hafer joked that library employees, having not been inside the building for six months, were holding their own Hunger Games to see who gets in first. It turns out the entire staff toured the library together on Aug. 13.
“They were so anxious to load the books on carts and get out of here that they did it in less time than we planned,” Hafer said. “I think they’re going to be twice as fast to load the books to move back in here.”
In addition to the boiler room and storage, the basement — previously unavailable to the public — will be home to the library’s maker space that will contain a laser cutter, 3-D printer, a green screen studio, sewing machine and serger, button maker and Cricut machine.
Money the library has received each of the last three years during Give Hastings Day — more than $20,000 — has totally funded maker space equipment.
Because staff oversight is needed, the maker space will be open to the public about four hours every day except Wednesdays, when it will be closed but could be used for classes and library events.
“As a librarian you can only dream about working in a library like this that’s brand new,” Hafer said. “Not every librarian ever gets an opportunity to do this, so to look at it and think ‘we get to work in this library’ is breathtaking. That’s what’s so exciting.”