Anne Johnson gets a nostalgic pang every time she walks through “those heavy doors” at the Chuckatuck Library.
When she attended Chuckatuck High School in the 1940s, the building used to be the school cafeteria.
“I remember we could not run when the bell rang to go to lunch and we walked as quickly as we could to the cafeteria,” said Johnson, who still lives in the area. “The whole high school went to lunch together.”
She has fond memories of talking and laughing with her friends during lunch as a high school student, but she also remembers the building when she went back to teach math at Chuckatuck High in 1959.
Johnson was glad when the former cafeteria was repurposed as a library in 1989 and was happy to learn of the upcoming “library lift” – a light remodel and reorganization of the building that houses one of Suffolk’s three public libraries.
The “lift” will include replacing the current metal shelving in the library with wooden shelves, painting, new carpet, and a reorganization of the layout to create better flow and a cozier space, said Clint Rudy, director of Suffolk Public Library.
“Our plan is that this will give a more positive image to the library,” Rudy said.
The remodeling of the one-story, 2,000-square-foot building began Feb. 14 and is anticipated to last three weeks. The library should reopen to the public March 10.
And while Anne Johnson said there was never a choice of school lunch in the former cafeteria, the library offers a variety of resources to its patrons, including 10,000 books, wireless Internet, three public computers, books on CD/tape, downloadable music, audiobooks and movies. There’s also a children’s section and weekly programming for kids.
Part of the “lift” will include making displays more “browseable” and rotating resources among the Chuckatuck, Morgan Memorial and North Suffolk libraries, Rudy said.
The building is leased from Saunders Supply Company, whose retail operation is housed in the former high school adjacent to the library. The landlord is covering the costs to paint and replace the carpet. The city is spending $7,000 for new shelving, storage units in which to store inventory during renovations, and other costs affiliated with the project.
The shelving was bought by the City of Chesapeake from Borders bookstores when the chain closed in 2011 for use in its libraries, but it had surplus stock it sold to Suffolk.
“We’re getting about $15,000 worth of shelving for $5,000 so it’s a good deal for us,” Rudy said. “It will give the library a nice fresh look.”
The city’s Bookmobile will remain on site during the renovations to serve patrons during the library’s regular operating hours.
Last fiscal year, the Chuckatuck Library logged 3,600 patron visits, loaned 7,600 items and had attendance of 550 at its programs.