Library Renovations are Nothing Like HGTV

Library renovations are definitely not something taught in Library School. And the guys on HGTV or TLC make it renovations looks so easy. Mike Holmes manages to refoundation an entire house in under 30 minutes with nary a blemish or broken dish in sight. But that’s TV, and not reality.

I have had plenty of experience as a project manager in the library software world, and like to think that I did pretty well in that arena. New implementations flowed (relatively) smoothly from sales, to software implementation, to installation, and finally the library went live on a brand-spanking-new integrated library system. Construction projects work nothing like software implementations, I have come to find out. They are full of stops and starts and endless meetings with facilities folks, architects, designers, and a whole host of people peeling up carpet and measuring every square inch of the Library.

My Library is being renovated this summer, and that is the good news. What started out as a simple plan to recarpet and repaint the Library has now morphed into a much larger project requiring collection moves, library staff in exile, and asbestos abatement. While I am certain the final product will be lovely and be universally appreciated by faculty, students, and staff alike, I’m a little nervous about everything going as smoothly as possible.

I guess I should take a page from the Bobby Ferrin songbook and “don’t worry” and “be happy”, but it seems like we have 1001 projects to complete this summer, and so little time to do everything. Wish us luck, and if anyone has any good tips for surviving a library renovation, please do send them my way. I promise I’ll post some before and after pictures on my Flickr account.


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