Sedalia Public Library closed for at least six months

August 24, 2012

The Sedalia Public Library’s doors will be closed for at least six months after engineers found more structural problems Wednesday.

The 111-year-old building has been closed for the last two weeks after workers found major cracks and foundation issues late last month. The original issue — a three-inch-deep crack that was pulling the wall away from the floor — closed the west wing of the building, which includes the computer room, large print area, children’s area and the entire basement. As crews started working to brace the building, more problems were found.

“We met with an engineer Wednesday and now we have issues with the front part of the building,” said Library Director Pam Hunter. “The stairwell that leads up to the third floor is separating from the rest of the building.”

Hunter said the library’s front porch will have to be removed and depending on whether crews can work around them, the front columns may also be taken down. Crews have already taken out the building’s west side windows and will re-block the entire corner from the basement to the roof.

“We can’t stay here while they’re working. We’re going to have to relocate the library until it’s finished,” Hunter said. “(The structural engineer) told me it would take a minimum of six months and up to 12, but he thinks it will be closer to six. We’ll take some of the collection, including all the local records and some computers and set up somewhere else.”

Hunter said a temporary location hasn’t been found yet, but noted there will be additional expenses to move. A small silver lining, though, is the award of a $5,000 National Trust for Historic Preservation grant the library received this week.

“It’s not a large amount, but we’ll take it,” Hunter said. “That will go directly to the cost for the emergency bracing we’ve had to do.”

Hunter said the engineer gave her a “very, very rough” cost estimate of $750,000 to fix the west and front sections of the library, which has about $200,000 in its capital reserve fund and $51,000 in an emergency fund. Hunter and Library Board President Nancy Finley had a meeting with city officials and city financial adviser Carl Ramey earlier this month to discuss adding the library to a city bond that will fund the repair of the Washington Avenue bridge, the purchase of a new fire truck and building a new fire Station No. 2 to replace the one on West 16th Street.

“Right now we’re focusing on finding a location to set up a small library so we can be open for our patrons,” Hunter said. “After we get that accomplished, (the library board) will probably talk in more detail about planning a ‘save the library’ fundraiser.”