BCPL reopens after month long renovation


The Bay City Public Library, at 1100 7th Street reopened Jan. 3 after undergoing renovations since Dec. 3. Approximately $100,000 from various sources, including FEMA, insurance from Hurricane Harvey damages, and the Bay City Library Association, combined to make the entire project a reality.  Renovations included expansion of approximately 2,000 sq feet in part of the former Capital One building, new flooring throughout most of the library, the creation of new spaces, and a new spacious layout. 

“The Library is used for more than just access to materials.” says Samantha Denbow, Library Director.  “Our space needed to be flexible to support technology, hands-on activities, small- and large-group learning, collaboration and individual study. With this project, we aimed to create a library that can meet future needs as well as current needs.”

Due to damages from Hurricane Harvey, about 50% of the flooring in the library had to be replaced once the roof was repaired. It was determined that the remainder of the floors needed replaced as well due to age and normal wear so there would be a cohesive look throughout the library. New flooring allowed for the long-awaited reconfiguring of library shelving to create a more open and visible layout. 

“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the changes, especially the new layout.” Says Denbow. “

With the closure of Capital One in October 2016, the City was left with a vacant building to fill. The ultimate solution was to allow the Library to expand into the vault and drive thru spaces of the building. The remainder of the building is currently leased to the Community Development Corporation, which also houses the Small Business Development Center, Mainstreet Program, and Gateway Mortgage. With this additional space, the Library Staff workroom was relocated to the old drive thru space which will house a drive-up book drop in the future. The vault and hallway leading to it was transformed into the new Genealogy Room. The room now features a collection focused on local and Texas history and genealogical publications. Neighboring states are also included in the collection. Family research can be done at the library and at the Matagorda County Museum and Annex.  

With the relocation of the staff room, Director’s office, and the Genealogy Room, new spaces have been created to serve the community. The former staff room has been converted into a Multipurpose Room complete with kitchenette to be used for library events and to ultimately be a rentable space by the public and local business for events all types, unlike the Community Room which is only available for library and non-profit use.   The Director’s office was converted into a small meeting room to meet the need of users who require a space larger than a study carrel but smaller than the Community Room. And finally, the former Genealogy Room was transformed into a Teen Room to include the Young Adult Collection and various spaces for studying, socializing, and programming. The room has been initially furnished with current library furniture and some pieces donated by the Lions Club in 2009 for the creation of a Teen space which was not permanent due to the lack of a designated space for only teenagers. However, the library today features a room solely for ages 12 to 18 years old.

“For years, we have discussed the need for a room designated for teenagers” says Andrea Savage, Youth Services Specialist. “I am excited to see the expansion and improvements to the spaces for all youth in our community. We hope that more teens will want to utilize the space but also become involved in impacting the future of Youth Services by joining our Jr. Friends of the Library organization. These teens volunteer at the library and have a voice in programs and events that we offer.”

The Youth Room, now nicknamed “Pancho’s Cove” in memory of Frank Lewis Jr., features an engaging and improved space for patrons in 5th grade and under. Overhead scenes in the lighting create a three-dimensional feel to the room. Two tablets connected to ABCMouse for digital learning are stationed next to two public computers to be accessed by youth or parents with young children. The room is divided into two age ranges – Big Fish (3rd – 5th grade) and Little Fish (2nd grade and under). The Little Fish space includes the new Family Place play and learn area that was developed as part of the Family Place grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission which the Library received in 2018. The Big Fish area includes a versatile seating arrangement for the older youth. One of the most noticeable additions is the large canvas mural of sea life painted by Amanda Garcia of the Art League of Bay City. The Youth Room renovation was made possible by Mr. Lewis’s donation to the Bay City Library Association. 

Savage says “Our new Family Place Play and Learn area has been highly utilized and well-received by parents with young children. New initiatives and services like this have been in development over the last couple of years, and we are finally seeing them realized.”

The renovation is not the end of changes for the library. Future improvements include a drive-up book drop, energy efficient lighting, the ability for individuals and groups to rent the new Multipurpose Room, a makeover of the restrooms, and a furniture and technology update to the Teen Room. New programs are on their way as well. Attendees of the Grand Re-opening were able to get a sneak peek into the upcoming Play and Learn workshops for parents and caregivers with children 5 years and under. These workshops area five-week program that involves toddlers and their parents and caregivers which emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children. It teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy, features local professionals who serve as resources for parents, and facilitates early intervention.

“Libraries are continually transforming themselves to develop spaces and services to meet the changing needs of communities. Many consider libraries to be outdated and no longer relevant,” says Denbow “but we are proof that statement is not true. 

Bay City Public Library is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10am – 7pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, and Saturday 8am – 1pm. 

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