By Amanda Rogers
The Mansfield Public Library just got a new lease on life, bigger, bolder, more beautiful and more technological.
After closing on Memorial Day for long-awaited renovations, the library reopened this week with a new look that has been almost two decades in the making.
“Finally!” said Yolanda Botello, director of library and historical services. “It’s the change that we really needed. I think this is going to help us change how we serve the community.”
And there’s a lot more in the library -- and a lot more library. The renovation included a 4,000-square-foot addition to the back of the building, making the total area close to 20,000 square feet. The new addition includes a wide-open children’s area with bright colors and a program room that can be opened and closed with movable glass walls. There’s a fun reading area where youngsters can spread out on the floor in another corner.
The new addition has movable glass walls that lead out to a back patio and the open green space behind City Hall and the Mansfield Activities Center.
“I think people are not going to find that it’s just renovated, it’s re-imagined,” said Bobby Quinten, president of the Library Advisory Board. “It brings the library into the 21st century.”
In all, the facility added a conference room, two study rooms, two study booths, a program room, two family restrooms, two staff offices, a staff work room, six new computers, new print station and a new service point for librarians to help the public in the children’s area. Residents will be able to check out a meeting room or study area for two hours using their library card on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Plus, the library got new carpet, paint, LED lighting and furniture to really spruce up its look.
“We added a little bit of new shelving that allows us to spread out what we have,” Botello said.
The technology got a reboot, too, with three radio-frequency identification stations that allow people to self-checkout a lot of books at one time.
“The staff tagged 70,000 items in the collection, putting in bar codes,” Botello said.
The new look is apparent from the moment people walk in the door with the soaring ceilings with natural light and clean and modern look and design.
Charging stations and computer ports are embedded in many of the library tables, and a charging station with eight lockers is located near the front entrance in case library patrons start to lose power.
“There’s so much we can do,” said Julie Crisafulli, youth services librarian. “The new technology is going to be transformative.”
The Mansfield Public Library, 104 S. Wisteria St., was built in 2001, and expansion plans started almost as soon as the painted dried. In 2004, Mansfield residents voted for a $1.5 million bond to expand the building, the city added $1 million in 2019 and another $600,000 in 2021 due to rising building costs.
Construction began in November 2021 with the building closing to the public after Memorial Day so that workers could tackle interior construction.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library stayed open by using a book locker on the front porch and curbside service. Both continued during the renovation. Curbside service has ended with the reopening of the library, but the book lockers for items on hold will continue, Botello said.
Library programs returned to the library this week, including story times, computer classes, chess club, book club and more. For more information on program, click here.
The library is planning a grand opening this month, and has returned to regular operating hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Botello said that people continued to come into the library throughout construction, hoping to find it open. Now that it’s finished and updated, she hopes that they will be pleased.
“I hope they’re as excited as we are,” she said.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.