On July 11, 2019

Woodstock library seeks $500K for failed HVAC system

Staff report

WOODSTOCK—The Norman Williams Public Library’s heating and cooling system failed, so library staff and volunteers are offering home delivery of books, DVDs and magazines, for free.

“We can deliver right to our patrons at home,” said Norman Williams Public Library Director Amanda Merk.

The library has long offered home delivery at the request of patrons, but Merk is encouraging seniors and mothers with young children to take advantage of the service now to avoid the heat.

The library’s 20-year-old HVAC failed in the spring, making hot July days especially warm in the library, Merk said.

The library board is trying to raise $500,000 by this fall to replace the system before the cold weather sets in.

“After two decades of providing a comfortable environment for the more than 75,000 patrons and visitors who pass through our doors each year, our HVAC equipment has simply reached the end of its functional lifetime,” said NWPL Trustees President Ron Miller in a news release. “Because the cost is well beyond the scope of our operating budget, we must look to our community now to help us meet this special need.”

The library is used for numerous events throughout the year. Merk said some of those events are being relocated to the basement, where the children’s books are. Merk has also set up temporary air conditioners and fans throughout the library and she is providing ice cold water on every floor.  “My primary focus is to keep the patrons who use this library cool and comfortable for the summer,” said Merk.

The historic library, with pink sandstone, dates back to 1883. The library was completely renovated about 20 years ago and remains a fixture in Woodstock. Bobvila.com recently ranked the library ninth among the 25 most beautiful libraries in the nation.

Merk said the library has already raised about $250,000 with the help of several anonymous donors. The library board is working with several contractors and recently hired an engineer to design the new system, which will reduce the library’s use of fossil fuels.

Merk is looking at the positives.

“There are better pieces of equipment that we can make use of now,” Merk said. “It’s a win-win–(a win) for Mother Earth and a win for Norman Williams.”

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