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Library to get facelift

By Justin Boron

Perusing a fishing magazine at the Riverdale Branch of the Clayton County Library System, Lorena Finley said a library is more than books. Its appearance should convey an inviting, safe environment for young people, she said.

"That's what is most important, catching the eye of the children," Finley, 45, of College Park said.

When the 12,000-square-foot building was designed by Merrill Elam and her architecture in 1995, the intent was to assuage up-tempo urban pulse of Riverdale residents as they entered the library, allowing them to leave behind the neon signs and hum of cars on the city's roads.

But eight years after its opening, the library, recognized nationally for its architecture in 2003, badly needs repairs for cracks in its facade, water damage to its outer walls, and redwood window seals faded by the sun, said Carol Stewart, director of the Clayton County Library System.

Screws fastened too tightly on the panels have formed cracks in the cement panels coating the walls of the buildings' sharp angles, Stewart said.

And a struggle to find a suitable finish for the redwood window seals has left them looking old and chipped away.

Help is on the way though.

The Board of Commissioners recently approved $71,584 for the repairs. The initial cost for the library was $3.15 million.

The repairs will be the most extensive the building has seen in its history during which it was given the American Library Association and American Institute of Architects building award, Stewart said.

"It's a beautiful, elegant building, and it's just terrible not to allow it to look like it should look," she said.

The county's Headquarters Library on Battle Creek Road near Jonesboro won the same award.

The library is at 420 Valley Hill Road, Riverdale.