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Library needs major repairs
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The 16-year-old Covington Branch Library is in need of some major repairs, including a new roof and new heating and air condition units, which cost more than $1 million, money official say the library system simply doesn’t have.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are the big cost and may add up to more than $1 million alone based on conversations with state officials, said director Lace Keaton Tuesday.

The library’s Board of Trustees held a called meeting Tuesday to address multiple issues, but the building’s failing boilers, compressors and other HVAC infrastructure were the most daunting concern.

Board Chairman Steve Whatley said the building is aging and infrastructure repairs are becoming more common.
The building already has issues with air conditioning compressors in the past, but the hot water boilers are the ones failing now. Keaton said the boiler has failed multiple times in the past two weeks and every time a new part is installed an old part breaks.

“Do we piece it together or will this keeping happening? (Either way) we don’t have $1 million to put into new HVAC,” Keaton said.

Keaton said she’s asked the state’s library service to send any available money Covington’s way; the state’s already promised to provide a grant to help with the roof replacement.

Whatley said the plan is to have some state officials come out and inspect the building and provide feedback.
Multiple board members said they hoped advancing technologies might allow the library to find smaller, more efficient, less expensive units.

Leaky roof
The more visible concern is the leaking roof. When it rains, water actively leaks into the genealogy room — where a tarp covers some books and buckets collect the water — and water stains are appearing in the ceiling over the building. The library has a person trying to patch up the roof, but the problem is getting worse.

The library applied for and is expecting to soon receive a $100,000 grant from the state.

However, the money is expected to be available until next fiscal year, after July 1, and the library has to put up $100,000 on its end as well to satisfy the matching funds required by the state.

Whatley said part of the roof is metal and part of it is shingle, so officials need to trace the leaks to find out exactly what the issue is so they can bid the project out accurately.

Board member Lois Upham said the two issues — leaky roof and failing HVAC system — compound each other, because a leaky roof increases moisture and faulty air conditioning doesn’t properly remove that moisture.
She said the library’s books could be damaged if the problems continue.

One upgrade that can be made in the short term is the replacement of carpet in the children’s room and the reorganization of that room’s layout. The carpet is a hazard because ridges begin to form and can trip up small children, Keaton said.