The historic Carnegie Public Library in Ishpeming recently became more accessible for patrons with the completion of phase one of a major upgrade.
Earlier this month, library officials celebrated the installation of barrier-free access ramps to the main floor and to the children's area of the library, which has stood on North Main Street since 1904.
This phase of the Handicap Accessibility and Building Renovation campaign also included a new automated door and other entry modifications in addition to the ramps.
The effort got a major boost last year when former librarian Betty Anderson launched the campaign with a $25,000 donation. In a fitting show of appreciation for the generous gift, Anderson was given the honor of being the first person to use the ramp following the ribbon-cutting.
In all, the upgrades at Carnegie are projected to cost about $300,000, with each phase being undertaken once the funds for the work are secured. Included in the total package - according to the library's website at www.uproc.lib.mi.us/ish - are: New entry and ramp costing $53,000, existing entry modifications costing $31,000, elevator costing $88,000 and bathrooms costing $30,000, for a handicap accessibility total of $202,000; and renovation of the lower level into research and meeting spaces costing $98,000.
Librarian Jessica Norton said the ramps will not only benefit patrons who are physically unable to climb stairs, but will make it much easier for visitors with young children in strollers to access the library.
While the renovations and additions to the library will make it much more user friendly and functional, one aspect of the building that won't be changed is the majestic main entrance, Norton said, citing the desire to retain the historical appearance of the building.
Seeing the project is being done in phases with each phase started once funding is in place, donations are still being sought. Donations can be mailed to Carnegie Public Library, 317 N. Main St., Ishpeming, Mich. 49849, or dropped off at the library. For more information, call 486-4381 or visit the library's website.
Public libraries have always been and will remain a focal point of a community, and having residents and local organizations and businesses get behind the Carnegie project is a great display of community pride.