The Wellington branch of the Palm Beach County Library System reopened on Tuesday, Nov. 9 after closing in December 2020 for $4.2 million in renovations that included air conditioning and lighting upgrades, new flooring and added amenities.
Palm Beach County Library Director Doug Crane said the building’s lighting was completely retooled.
“We had to gut out the old lighting system and put in the new one in high spaces in the building,” Crane said. “The entire carpeting was taken out and replaced, including new vinyl floor covering in the children’s area. We did some adjustments to create new spaces.”
This includes a new area called the “co-space,” where they knocked down a wall and combined that space with what was once a staff lounge to create a larger cooperative workspace. Another study room was also added.
“We worked on the A/C system, including getting a new chiller, that was a major cost,” Crane said, noting that paying contractors labor costs, including completely emptying the building of books and shelving, and moving all the contents back in, accounted for a lot of the cost.
Wellington Branch Manager Margaret Barry said the renovation has opened up the inner space.
“It isn’t really any bigger, but it looks bigger,” Barry said. “The lights are probably the most striking thing. Our lighting was always pretty dark in here.”
The entry area has been opened up, and the circulation desk moved to the center of the entryway.
“It’s the first thing you’re going to see when you walk in,” Barry said. “It’s combined with our research library, and they’ll all be working in one place.”
Amenities include a new “creation station” where people can edit videos, with a green wall for layering videos.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a recording studio, but there are some recording capabilities in there,” Barry said. “Next to that room is what we are calling our ‘co-space.’ It’s a collaborative room for the public to come in and use the wonderful furniture in there, like an ad hoc workroom, and create and innovate.”
Digital displays and new seating areas have been added in the building, as well as a new study room and bar-top style seating.
The shelving for some of the book stacks near the windows were lowered to allow more natural light to enter the building, Barry said.
“We can now see out of our windows,” she said, adding that the stacks’ locations have not changed significantly. “The children’s section is still in the same place, and the adult section is in the same place. There’s not a big change in the layout.”
While the library was closed, the 24 staff members were moved to other library branches. “We are so happy to be back in our space,” Barry said. “We really missed it.”
The Wellington branch, originally built in 1997, was last remodeled with a major expansion in 2007. It will have a rededication ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 18.
“We hope to have some kind of music, and we’ll introduce the community to the new spaces,” Barry said. “I know Commissioner [Melissa] McKinlay will attend, and County Administrator Verdenia Baker will probably be here as well.”
The $4.2 million that covered the renovation was put together over several years by saving into the capital improvement fund.
The Wellington branch, located at 1951 Royal Fern Drive, is one of 17 locations of the Palm Beach County Library System, and is expected to serve some 141,000 residents and school students in the area over the next decade.
For more information, visit www.pbclibrary.org/locations/wellington.