By Taylor Estes
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
After more than a year of renovations, the Richland Library St. Andrews on Broad River Road finally reopened to the public on Wednesday Nov. 15.
The renovations were funded by a bond referendum that Richland County residents voted to approve in 2013. About $59 million was provided from the bond referendum to renovate every library in Richland County, including the St. Andrews location.
Michelle DuPre, the manager of the St. Andrews branch, says that the renovations were absolutely necessary to give the community what they need.
“The library hadn’t been renovated in 25 years. To be a library in the twenty-first century, we needed to be caught up to speed in our technology,” DuPre said.
The library has 24 hour free wifi service, computers and charger outlets available to guests throughout the space. The library even has a space dedicated solely to visitors who need technology for the purposes of jobs and education.
“We have people who come in and use the computers for their online schooling or try and look for jobs. There was a big need in the community for that, and I’m happy that the library can finally provide that to people,” DuPre said. The job and education center of the library is a quiet zone where DuPre says people can concentrate in peace.
All of the libraries being renovated in Richland County were designed with a theme in mind, and the design layout of the St. Andrews location was created to make the library look like a tech start-up company.
“Yeah, we have a big focus on our technological services. And I love the bright colors in the library, it makes me feel like this is a place for creativity,” DuPre said.
DuPre said her favorite part of the library is the new children’s area. “It’s so great to see the children playing with the stuffed animals and having a space to enjoy themselves. We provide weekly story time too, and the kids just love it,” DuPre said.
Including the children’s area, the library has several study rooms and a meeting room that can be used by only non-profit companies, as was delegated when the renovations were planned.
“One thing that people always ask me about is the large colorful structure outside of the library,” DuPre said. “It’s basically a massive art structure with Bluetooth capabilities, which has us excited to see what kind of events we can plan with the speaker system in the future.”
The structure, called The Band Shell, was created uniquely for the St. Andrews Library by artist Jarod Charzewski. The piece of art with a built-in speaker system and Bluetooth capabilities comes from the Richland Library’s initiative to dedicate one percent of the library’s construction budget towards incorporating original public art into each renovation project.
“I think the Band Shell really speaks to the tech theme we have. And I also really think that the community’s really going to enjoy the renovated St. Andrews,” DuPre said.
Out of the 12 Richland libraries that are undergoing renovations, six are finished with construction and the other six are still in progress.