GREENSBURG -- Inside the south side of the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library, a missing ceiling tile reveals a plastic bag whose top edge has been taped to the bottom of the roof to capture water dripping in through a leak.
The water streaks down the plastic bag and, at the bottom, enters a hose that drains and discards the water.
The missing tile is a few feet above a shelf that contains the library’s selection of cooking-related materials, which include “Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art,” “The Glory of Southern Cooking;” and “Bon Appetit, y’all,” — but the leaks and other roofing problems have left a rather bitter taste in the mouths of library officials.
The library, located at 1110 E. Main St., was built 20 years ago for about $3.6 million, but its roof in recent years has developed problems that have required significant repairs, costing library officials at least $46,000 since 2008.
Both Library Director Andrea Ingmire and a consultant worry that the continual leaks ultimately may cause structural damage to the building itself. Some leaks had damaged some of the wooden trusses in the library’s walls before they were repaired last year.
Ingmire received the go-ahead recently from Greensburg City Council to pursue replacing the roof. She had said the roof would cost no more than $700,000, and that only the library — not the City Council — would be responsible for making the bond payments.
The need for the roof is arising at a time when the library is making its last payment on the building, which means taxpayers should see little, if any, impact on the library portion of their property tax bills, according to library officials.
Ingmire said that, through last year, the library had been making two annual payments of about $100,000 each to pay off the library bond. This year, the library will make a single, final payment of $100,000 on the bond. Starting in 2015, the roof bond will require an annual bond payment of a similar amount. That bond is expected to be paid within eight or nine years.
Beyond the missing ceiling tile on the library’s south side, the interior reveals little of the problems floating overhead. The library’s center is flooded with natural light, thanks to a skylight that runs from east to west. Designed by Indianapolis-based architectural firm Pecsok, Jelliffe, Randall & Nice, the building also features large windows near which patrons enjoy relaxing and reading.
The structure also features a computer lab on the north side, a meeting/conference room that can be rented and has proven popular for baby showers, and a large children’s area with iPads, colorful carpet and Saphira, a bearded dragon lizard who has lived in the library (in a glass enclosure, of course) since 2008. Saphira, named after a dragon in the “Eragon” series, moves as little as possible, but “the kids adore her,” Ingmire said.
The 21,600-square-foot library employs 25, including 13 full-time, and welcomed 125,000 visitors in 2013. It counts 12,354 unique card holders. Any Decatur County resident can get a membership for free.
As Ingmire sat in her office on Thursday, she said that when the library had new carpet installed in the children’s area last year, workers found a leak that library officials did not know about. Construction workers started examining the area and found that the drywall, insulation and other components were damaged.
The leaks looked terrible, said Library Board member John Duncan, who is serving his fourth term on the board.
Ingmire said that in December, a ceiling tile had gotten so saturated with water that it broke out of the ceiling and crashed to the floor.
Ingmire, who has served as director since 2008, said she worries about other leaks of which library staff may not be aware and which silently may be causing significant damage.
“All of our band-aids are failing,” she said.
Ben Brown, a project manager with consulting firm STR, which the library hired to inspect the damage and oversee the roof replacement, said that leaks have caused lot of problems in the ceiling, and that some of the leaks already had damaged wood within the library’s walls.
“There comes a point in time where you’re spending as much (to fix it) as you would to replace it,” he said.
“You might as well do it now,” Duncan agreed. “It’s a beautiful building … but it’s just time.”
STR has estimated that the roof will last no more than five years, but Ingmire and Duncan said library officials want to replace the roof this year to avoid suffering more damage to the building itself.
Ingmire said patrons, especially from out of town, often comment on the local library’s charm.
“We want to keep it that way,” she said. “We want to make sure it’s a good asset for Decatur County.”
Contact: Boris Ladwig 812-663-3111 x7401; email@example.com