HANFORD — The Hanford branch of the Kings County Library will close later this month for renovations to meet the challenges created by the growing use of the facility.
The library will be closed from April 29 to May 13. During that time, materials that have been checked out can still be returned via book drops. Reserved materials will be available for pickup as soon as the library reopens.
“If things go really, really well and we happen to finish early, we might reopen sooner,” said Natalie Rencher, director of the Kings County Library.
Rencher said the renovation will change the way the library provides services by consolidating the circulation and reference desks. The existing layout can create a lot of extra work for library staff.
“They’re in two different areas,” Rencher said of the desks. “That was designed at a time when libraries had adequate staffing.”
The project will also include the installation of two new self-checkout stations. The machines, which are commonplace in other area library systems, will be the first of their kind in Kings County. Rencher said library staff went to Fresno and Tulare to look at the self-checkout systems in place there.
“It’s an added convenience,” Rencher said. “It’s time for Kings County to be introduced to that. It will be more designed for people who just want to walk in, check out materials and walk out.”
Rencher said the stations will free up staff to assist people with reference questions and other needs.
Despite the growing amount of information available on the Internet, Rencher said more people are making use of libraries in Kings County. The Hanford library alone saw an 11 percent increase in the amount of materials checked out last year. Overall library visits throughout the county increased 29 percent.
Other additions in recent years have included a children’s room, a teen space and a “laptop lounge” in the mezzanine.
Rencher said the next major renovation will likely be at the Lemoore branch library. That project will be considered as the Kings County Library prepares its library facilities master plan, which would include long-term goals for all library branches.
A community meeting will be held on May 16 at 3:30 p.m. at the Hanford library to discuss the plan and gather input from the public.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or by email at meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.