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Turner: COA library renovations on budget, on time

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Joseph Turner, chief operations officer at College of The Albemarle, gives a tour and update on the renovations underway at the library at COA's Elizabeth City campus, Tuesday afternoon.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, December 14, 2018

The full-scale renovation of the library on College of The Albemarle’s main campus in Elizabeth is proceeding on budget and on time, with the facility now expected to open in late March or early April.

The project represents a complete overhaul of 21,000 square feet of space in the two-story building. When it reopens, the library will be transformed from a space with stack space for thousands of books to one with stack space for hundreds of books and new collaborative learning areas, COA’s Chief Operations Officer Joe Turner explained.

“It won’t be the ‘shsssh’ kind of library anymore,” Turner said. “There will be a hum.”

Part of the collaborative learning area will feature a wall in each of several first-floor study rooms coated in “marker board paint.” The paint effectively turns the wall into a dry-erase marker board.

The budget for the library renovation is $2.89 million. Sources of funding for the project include NC Connect bond proceeds, state funding and some private donations. NC Connect bond funding accounts for $1.8 million of the project’s cost.

A.R. Chesson and Co. is the general contractor for the project and the architect is Oakley and Collier. Chesson’s work is expected to be finished by the end of this month. Inspections should be completed no later than the first week of January, according to Turner.

The Board of Trustees approved naming the first floor of the library in February 2017 the Charles H. Ward Library and Knowledge Common. COA officials have said other naming opportunities are available by contacting the COA Foundation office.

Once the inspections are completed the college will spend the rest of January and February, and possibly part of March, getting the library’s furnishings and technology in place. The building will be set up for both WiFi and cable internet.

The library building was constructed in 1979 and still is in good general condition. The renovations are needed, however, to provide special attention to the changing function of libraries and the increasing role of digital technology in learning, Turner said.

The renovated library will have LED lighting throughout and has all new electrical wiring and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Even with some big storms that have come along during construction the contractor has held to the original timetable, Turner said.

“We haven’t lost any time,” he said.

The renovation has been a long time coming. The project was first submitted for state approval in 2012.

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