Westside library to close Nov. 22 for renovations

Pearland Westside Library will close in late November for four weeks for renovations, but the result will be that a larger space, expanded hours and increased patron access to technology.

In the summer, Pearland City Council approved spending $350,000 to add 4,000 square feet to the 6,000-square-foot library, 2803 Business Center Drive, Suite 101, to increase it to 10,000 square feet. Construction began Oct. 15 and the library will close from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15.

"After Thanksgiving, the current partition wall separating the current space from the expansion space will come down," said Librarian Sue Wheeler, who manages the branch. "Once that wall comes down, there will really be no way to use the library. We are going to have to move things around and out of their way for the construction to continue.

"We are serving a great need right now because people need a lot of books," she said. "Once we reopen, I want the library to become a great community resource."

After starting in a temporary, 890-square-foot space at 2150 Country Place, the westside branch opened in May 2013.

It has become the second-most-used library behind the Pearland Library at 3522 Liberty Drive among the 15 branch facilities in the Brazoria County Library System.

As of September, the westside facility has logged 322,600 loaned items compared to 340,293 for the main Pearland branch.

But the westside library's circulation numbers for that month were the highest in the county - 28,224 - which was 704 more than the other Pearland library's total.

Demand has led library officials to plan increased hours of operation.

When it reopens in December, the library will be open on Mondays for the first time.

The branch will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The library will continue to be closed on Sundays.

"Once the library reopens we anticipate adding a number of new programs," Wheeler said.

Plans are under way to add toddler activity groups, a writers group and classes for English as a second language.

Also planned are computer stations featuring educational games for children.

The expanded site will include more study areas and meeting spaces, expanded adult reading areas and a teen area with study tables and lounge seating.

The library will include up to 12 new data ports for patrons who bring their own computers.

The library has four full-time and seven part-time employees. An additional part-time employee will be added to accommodate the expanded hours.

Pearland city project manager Jennifer Lee said the current lease for the library building costs the city $11,465 a month, which includes property tax and insurance.

With the expansion, the new lease will run $17,465 per month.

"The lease agreement provides for a $100,000 reimbursement upon completion of the project. The budget for the project was $450,000, however, the actual costs are approximately 18 percent less than the budget at this point," Lee said.

Build out of the library's original space cost the city $840,000.

The library system covered the costs for computers, network and WiFi at a cost of $34,052. The county also covers staff salaries, around $200,000 annually.

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