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Bad weather, redesign delay library construction crews

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Renovations to the Bartholomew County Public Library could resume soon after a lengthy lull caused by bad weather.

The library’s brick plaza entrance is being renovated and a new courtyard is being added between the library and the Bartholomew County Visitor’s Center, costing about $1.4 million.

When completed, the library — designed by architect I.M. Pei and opened in 1969 — will have larger ramp access and side stairs, wireless Internet access throughout the plaza area, granite stairs leading up to the library and new outdoor seating.

When completed, electrical work and new lighting will make the courtyard more accessible for concert and community events.

Library board members spent more than a year discussing possible outdoor renovation plans and gathered public input before deciding on a design that focused on historic preservation.

The improvements — which will be paid for by tapping into the library’s savings account — are part of recent upgrades to the downtown architectural icon, which also included roof repairs to fix leaks when it rained.

Work on what was originally envisioned as a three-month project to remove and replace worn bricks began in late summer, said Jason Hatton, assistant library assistant director.

Check it out

27,000 to 30,000

Number of monthly visitors at the Bartholomew County Public Library


Number of patrons utilizing the library last year

What’s new

Improvements to the renovated Bartholomew County Library at 536 Fifth St. will include:

  • New lighting and electrical work in the existing plaza.
  • A new courtyard between the library and Bartholomew County Visitor’s Center.
  • Wireless Internet access.
  • New granite stair steps and handicap-accessible entrance.
  • Shade trees for the plaza.

Information: 812-379-1255; or online at

Construction crews were frozen out in December, however, and delays continued while below-normal temperatures lingered through February, contractors said.

The only work that is complete is the new foundation for the courtyard and plaza, said designer Randy Royer of Blue Marble Design, an Indianapolis-based landscape design firm.

He said the brick and granite work has not yet started.

However, Royer said the project is roughly 50 percent complete and he hopes work can start again by April 1.

David Doup, president of Taylor Brothers Construction Co., the construction manager, explained that the project was delayed by some late design changes of the entrance ramp, changing out construction materials and the plaza’s overall appearance.

“There were also some color issues that (the library board) wanted to make sure were a little more appropriate for the history of the project and (would) keep the design true to the original design while still upgrading it,” he said.

“(And) Old Man Winter got us,” Doup said.

The construction delays have caused some accessibility challenges for visitors who aren’t able to navigate stairs to enter the building, Hatton said.

The entrance closest to the parking lot has stairs, he said. Further away is the front entrance, which is handicapped-accessible.

Doup said he is hopeful the plaza and new courtyard will be completed by June.

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