Library expansion sprints to the finish line

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jul 31, 2013 - 01:37 PM

Photo: The Mathews Memorial Library expansion is quickly taking shape. Contractor Loughridge and Company was completing the framework last week, and passersby could see signs of what the final product will be. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

The Mathews Memorial Library expansion is quickly taking shape. Contractor Loughridge and Company was completing the framework last week, and passersby could see signs of what the final product will be. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Photo: Friends of the Mathews Memorial Library president Maree Morgan, left, talks with Loughridge and Company job manager John Campbell in the area of the library addition that will soon be reading and computer room for adults. Skylights will brighten both the reading room and, via windows, the adjacent teen room. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Friends of the Mathews Memorial Library president Maree Morgan, left, talks with Loughridge and Company job manager John Campbell in the area of the library addition that will soon be reading and computer room for adults. Skylights will brighten both the reading room and, via windows, the adjacent teen room. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

The new addition to Mathews Memorial Library was bustling with activity last week as workers continued to make progress turning the former Radio Shack building (and before that, Ben Franklin then Mathews Five and Dime) into usable library space. Friends of the Library say they will need the community’s help to complete the project.

Fortunately, community support became a lot easier last week when the Mathews County Board of Supervisors allocated $50,000 for a challenge grant to match contributions dollar for dollar during the race to the finish.

Construction has been moving along smoothly. General contractor Loughridge and Company of Richmond has completed the concrete work on the floors, framed out the front façade and interior walls, and begun the process of installing skylights in the reading center for adults, which will be located in the previous outdoor space between the two buildings. When completed, the building will house the sunlit reading center, a small meeting room for the community, a staff support area, a kitchenette, two additional handicapped accessible bathrooms, and a bright teen center that will look out on Main Street through box windows.

In addition, the rear outdoor area bordered by the library, the Visitors’ Center, and the historic Thomas James Store will be turned into a paved courtyard with trees and benches and a "living wall" of plants installed on the library’s exterior.