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Our view: Library faces challenges this summer

March 21, 2019 GMT

It hardly seems fair.

After enduring nearly two years of major construction projects that made access somewhat difficult, the Rochester Public Library faces an even bigger challenge in 2019.

Starting early this summer, First Avenue Southwest, which provides access to the library parking ramp, will be torn up for sewer work. That will force closure of the ramp for at least a month. The work will not only cut off access to the ramp, it will also close off access to the library’s bookmobile garage and the drive-up, drop-off site used by so many patrons.

After that, the sewer and street project will go around the corner and force the closure of Second Street Southeast in front of the library.

“Construction will have a huge impact on us this summer,” Audrey Betcher, library director, said.

No kidding.

There’s no getting around the needed upgrades that will force the streets to be under construction this summer. The work apparently needs to be done.

Still, the library is a popular place in summer, with kids and families making regular visits there to pick up summer reading books and participate in programs. It’s going to take a little extra effort for people to find their way to the library, even if they park in the newly completed parking ramp across First Avenue from the Post-Bulletin.

In recent years, the library has become a busy community center, with so many opportunities for citizens of all ages and interests to participate. Here’s hoping people don’t get frustrated by the access and parking hurdles and decide to stay away from the library.

To ease frustrations for patrons, the library has announced that books and other items will be subject to automatic renewal during the construction period. In other words, due dates will be extended, unless there’s a hold on the item.

Most library materials can be checked out for 28 days. With the allowed three renewals, an item could theoretically be kept by a patron for the bulk of the construction period.

We also encourage the library to consider extending its summer weekend hours to allow easier access for library users at more convenient, non-construction times.

In any event, this summer, we’re going to find out how much the Rochester Public library means to our community. We have a feeling many of us are going to discover newfound appreciation for the place.