MERRILLVILLE | Renovations at the Lake County Public Library's central branch are moving forward.
The library's board of trustees recently awarded contracts to 11 companies for various elements in the renovation effort, said library Director Larry Acheff. The total cost of the project is about $12 million, Acheff said.
The layout of the facility at 1919 W. 81st Ave. will change, with the north end of the building housing administrative offices and the south portion housing the actual library facilities.
The project could take about 18 months to complete, but the library will remain open during the improvements.
The periodicals department currently is blocked, but materials from the department have been moved to the reference area. While some work has started, major renovations are expected to begin at the end of this month or in early September, Acheff said.
Other improvements include additional meeting rooms, technology improvements and a new entrance.
"It will be a better library building," Acheff said.
The exterior of the structure will be refaced with brick replacing the current white panels, and the book drop-off will be changed so patrons won't have to leave their vehicles to return items.
Library officials also plan to install a more efficient heating and cooling system, which will reduce operating costs.
The size of the south parking lot will be reduced during the project, and the change could improve drainage in the area, library officials said.