Libby library branch set to reopen

| August 11, 2020 8:26 AM

The burst pipe that dampened reopening plans at the Libby Branch of the Lincoln County Library nearly three months ago will soon be water under the bridge.

Library Director Alyssa Ramirez said the upstairs portion of the branch is set to welcome patrons back on Aug. 18.

The branch staff discovered the burst pipe in mid-May while planning to open their doors following a two-month shutdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly four inches of water flooded the building’s newly renovated basement.

A portion of the library’s nonfiction, Montana collection and archives were damaged, according to an online post made by staff members.

While the branch initially postponed their reopening by a week for repairs, the date was pushed back as the scope of the damage became clear. Carpeting and drywall had to be removed, officials announced on Facebook.

On Aug. 6, Ramirez said that all reconstruction and mold mitigation work was complete. The branch staff members are now waiting on new book shelving and desks before opening. According to Ramirez, the pandemic has slowed the manufacture and delivery of these items.

As staff members continue working on reopening the branch, Ramirez said a pop-up library established in the county courthouse to temporarily replace the library would remain open from 10 a.m to 4 p.m Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The library will no longer offer its services at the Libby farmers market, however.

When the branch reopens, Ramirez said the building would be following a COVID-19 plan developed by the county library board. Masks will be required inside and hand sanitizer will be provided. Since the library building is spacious, Ramirez does not anticipate any social distancing problems, but patrons will still be encouraged not to linger.

If the library’s plans hold, Ramirez expects to reopen the downstairs portion of the building in September.

Looking back on the past three months, Ramirez has managed to find a silver lining amid all the reconstruction and reopening delays.

“As much as it hurt us … the library looks amazing,” she said, “The renovations would have taken years to do otherwise.”