Kokomo — The Kokomo-Howard County Main Library looks like Swiss cheese.
Massive holes have been cut in all four exterior walls and through two floors in the center of the building.
Steel framing and drywall outline new, curved interior walls, and brand new ductwork shines from the ceiling.
Skids of acoustic tile were brought in Tuesday, meaning it won’t be long until the new wiring, plumbing and ductwork are all covered by clean, new ceilings.
Everything is taking shape, moving toward an Oct. 1 opening.
“It’s the openness and all of the light in the new building,” library director Charles Joray said. “That’s what will really make it different and very pleasant. It’s the same effect the South Branch has.”
The most obvious changes to be seen now are on the outside of the building. From the sidewalk to the roof, four openings now loom, the brown bricks cut out and hauled away.
Tuesday, workers had installed a steel girder, rising at an angle from the aperture on the south side of the building.
The girder will serve as a guide for a series of thick glass panels, which will form a single plane rising from sidewalk to roof. The glass will tilt away from the building as it rises, until it’s more than 2 feet away from the exterior wall at the top.
Inside the building, the second floor will extend out so people can walk right up to the glass, and have the sensation of almost floating above the street.
The effect won’t be quite as dramatic perhaps on the east and west sides of the building, where glass paneling, flush with the existing wall, will frame new entryways on the ground floor.
On the second floor, however, above the new entryways, the same tilted glass plane motif will be installed.
Inside the building, floor-to-ceiling glass panels will frame two sides of a new stairwell, which will take patrons from the basement (with meeting rooms, genealogy and library offices) to the third floor, where the stacks and a computer cluster will be located.
Etched glass, with 15 panels depicting each of Kokomo’s 15 “firsts,” will likewise separate the children’s section on the ground floor from the main library hallway.
Joray said he expects the $4 million renovation to be finished by early August.
After that, the library will need three to four weeks to move in to the building, so Oct. 1 is the projected opening date.
Monday, library officials voted to provide an added incentive for patrons to check out the new building, voting to end the audiovisual checkout fees instituted last year.
The board voted in the fees based on projections of a budget shortfall, but the library ended up with greater than anticipated revenue this year. Property tax caps didn’t hit the library as much as anticipated, and both Delphi and Chrysler paid overdue property tax bills.
The board voted to end the 50 cents per item checkout fees beginning Oct. 1, and to revert back to the library’s original opening times on the same date. All library locations will be open at 9 a.m. Monday to Friday when the change occurs.
“We wanted to be sure we had the operating funds to run the library,” Joray said. “And it’s also something that makes the renovation special.”
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at email@example.com