Noisy library? Construction forces Saint John Free Public Library into mall

Libraries are normally quiet places, but the Saint John Free Public Library in Market Square has been so noisy lately it's had to close on occasion and temporarily move services into the mall.

Brian Steeves, regional director for the Fundy Library region, says it's construction at Market Square that's causing all the shuffles.

Work crews are replacing the roof, which Steeves said is a much-needed update.

The existing roof dates back to 1983 when the building was constructed and has leaked intermittently for a number of years, he said.

"Thankfully there's never been any damage to the collection, touch wood," said Steeves.

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"It's causing a bit of inconvenience for people for sure and it's been frustrating for staff, but the good news is we will in a few weeks have a brand new roof on the building."

Steeves said they weren't anticipating any problems, but "things don't always go as planned" with construction projects.

Fumes from the roofing tar has made some staff feel ill occasionally, so they worked with the landlord to find alternate space in the mall.

"It allows us to still offer service but somewhat scaled down of course, going from a place of 40,000 square feet to just a few thousand," said Steeves. "But at least we were able to offer service in the Market Square building."

The temporary relocation means that programming, particularly for children, can continue during the roof replacement.

Steeves credits staff ingenuity for some of the workarounds they've come up with.

For circulation services, for example, they're offering mobile displays of popular items that people can check out on the spot. Otherwise, patrons can place a hold on a book and staff will retrieve it for them within 24 hours and have it ready for pick up.

"I guess the real message is bear with us," said Steeves. "It's a short-term pain for long-term gain."

Patrons can also visit one of the other branches until the construction is complete: the west side location in Lancaster Mall, the east side location in the Saint John Transit building, or the Kennebecasis Public Library in Quispamsis.