Library Work Begins

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Photo by Lester Smith

Seen in the evening, the overhung sitting room of the new Zak entrance is packed with items stored while PCB remediation takes place in the old section of the Kent Memorial Library.

Work started at the library on August 23, as First Selectman Melissa Mack had predicted at the August 22 selectmen’s meeting. Workmen from contractor AAIS carried supplies and equipment into the building through the new north side door in the interconnecting corridor between the old building and the new Zak entrance building. Before long, the big windows were all lined with semi-opaque plastic intended, in part, to protect the glass from the blasting grit to be used when the coating was blasted and scraped off the waffled ceilings. That coating had been identified as the guilty element in the library’s PCB contamination problem.

Another early chore was a new set of baseline tests for interior atmospheric PCB levels. The data are being analyzed.

Then crews from Bloomfield Electric arrived to remove all the electrical conduits and circuit boxes that would interfere with the blasting. AAIS crews began the task of removing the acoustical tiles deep in each waffle hole, along with the daub of adhesive that secured them. Because there was asbestos in that adhesive, the debris was all dumped and covered in a bin set inside a locked chain-link-fenced cage placed on the parking area across Bank Lane from the First National Bank.

The main task of grit blasting could not start until the EPA approved the detailed work plan submitted by AAIS, which, at press time, was expected later in September. All of the remediation work continues to be monitored by consultants; Fuss and O’Neil, who have worked with Town officials since the library’s airborne PCB problem was discovered in early 2016.

In the meantime, Library Director Jackie Hemond and her staff have been giving increased attention to the details of the upcoming move back to “the big house” after more than four years. The amount of shelf space will be significantly reduced by the removal of certain alcoves, by the limitation on shelf height to provide clearance for the new sprinklers, by the loss of shelving along the ramps, and for other reasons. There will also be a loss of storage space: the big closets at the rear of the auditorium are gone. The amounts of these losses have not been evaluated. But, on the bright side, the increase from the temporary facilities at Ffyler place will be tremendous!

An unsolved problem is the issue of poster display space. In recent years, most library lobbies have included vibrant spaces for information on upcoming community events and opportunities – posters and fliers galore – something not well achieved digitally. With the new Zak entrance off limits for such use, it isn’t clear how that vibrancy can be achieved. 

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