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New Griffith library branch focuses on technology

New furniture more computers are some new features new Griffith-Calumet Township branch library Griffith Ind. Tuesday March 26 2013.

New furniture and more computers are some of the new features at the new Griffith-Calumet Township branch library in Griffith, Ind. Tuesday March 26, 2013. The library, which is almost twice as big as the previous branch, opens at 10 a.m. Thursday. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 29, 2013 11:14AM



Patrons can finally take their first look inside the Lake County Public Library’s newest branch Thursday morning as it opens to the public for the first time.

The opening will soon be followed by the end of construction at the library’s main branch in Merrillville.

The Griffith branch, located at the corner of 45th Avenue and Colfax Street, replaces the old Griffith branch and the Calumet Township branch on 41st Avenue, both of which have closed.

Construction on the $2.9 million project, which started almost a year ago, took a little longer than the original plan, which called for the library to open by January, but did come under budget by $15,169, Executive Director Ana Grandfield said.

Workers have slowly moved books and equipment to the new library branch since about February, Chris Rettig, branch manager said, and a group of volunteers spent the last three days finishing the move and setting everything up.

The library district sees Thursday as a soft opening to allow staff to fix any bugs that come up.

“It looks OK for us until people come in and say, hey, this doesn’t work,” Grandfield said.

At 15,000 square feet, the new branch is bigger than both the former Griffith and 41st Avenue branches combined and comes equipped with free wireless Internet, which is also new. The branch features more and larger meeting areas and an outside patio area for programs.

The new branch fits in well with Griffith’s recent revitalization effort, which has included a rebuilt Broad Avenue through downtown and new landscaping, Griffith Town Council Vice President Rick Ryfa said.

“It works perfectly in line with the revitalization of the town,” he said. “This is a tremendous enhancement.”

Ryfa said the new technology will benefit local residents and he thanked the library district for the new addition to the town.

“I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, and I guarantee they’ll be using it,” he said.

The branch’s official dedication will take place April 13, Grandfield said, just one day after the dedication ceremony at the Merrillville branch. Renovation work at the main library has taken more than a year to complete because it stayed open throughout the work. Most of the construction work is done, she said, except for some flooring.

Work will continue, though, as the library rearranges the main branch so that most of the books, DVDs and CDs will be on the main floor for easier access to patrons. The children’s department will remain on the bottom floor, but the upper floor, where most of the books used to be stored, will instead be dedicated to research.

Although the main work will soon be done, the projects aren’t over. Grandfield said most of the branches’ parking lots need to be repaved. The district will also need to make a decision on its Black Oak branch, the only one that hasn’t been remodeled recently. The district doesn’t have the funds to do so right now, Grandfield said, but the library has become a greater concern with the announcement by Lake Ridge Schools that it will shutter the nearby Grissom Elementary.

“Part of me says they need the library even more,” she said, noting that most of the residents in the area can’t walk to other libraries because the Borman Expressway divides them.



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