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York County Library is ... CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS

People use the computer lab Wednesday at the York County Library in Rock Hill. The library will close Monday for two weeks for renovations and will reopen Jan. 5. Below, a library patron adjusts her headphones.
People use the computer lab Wednesday at the York County Library in Rock Hill. The library will close Monday for two weeks for renovations and will reopen Jan. 5. Below, a library patron adjusts her headphones.

Michante Staley's second home is the York County Library in downtown Rock Hill. It's where she goes five days a week to do her online college work.

On Monday, the library will be closed for repairs and first-floor renovations -- something employees cannot do while patrons are inside.

"I'll have to find somewhere else to go to do my work online," said Staley, a 20-year-old University of Phoenix student who planned to complete course work during the Christmas season.

The York County Library and the county's bookmobile are normally closed for the holidays from Dec. 24 to 28 and on New Year's Day. The downtown branch will be closed an additional six days for the repairs and improvements. It will reopen Jan. 5.

"Anytime we close, it's an issue," said Colleen Carney, the county's library director. "Our only time that we can do repairs are either between the holidays when school is out or during August."

Waiting until August wasn't an option because library officials wanted to capitalize on some unused space available when some offices such as bookkeeping and community relations were moved. The move freed up 1,300 square feet that can be used by the public, Carney said.

Next week's closure marks the second time in two years the library's main branch has been closed for revamping.

Despite space limitations, building a new library -- or just expanding the existing one -- is not an option now, Carney said.

A $75 million county bond package that would've paid for a new main library, along with several other projects, failed in a 2006 referendum.

"There is no way we can expand where we are so we are trying to maximize the public service space," Carney said. "I can't think of a better thing to do with the 1,300 square feet than make it available for our children."

Library officials say they are making best use of the site. Employees will paint, install locks and clean carpet while the branch is closed. They also will switch out the locations of the first-level adult and children's sections.

"By switching the two departments, we are literally moving the entire first-floor collections around," Carney said. "We can't do this in a day. We're talking about thousands of books and shelving. It's a lot to do."

Staley, the college student, welcomes the library's upgrades, but the down time will cost her as she pursues a health care administration degree from the University of Phoenix.

"I won't be able to turn in my classwork on time," she said Wednesday as she read online notes from her professor.

Claudia Moore of Rock Hill and her 10-year-old son, Hezekiah Perry, had mixed reactions.

"It will slow things down for me for the next two weeks," Moore said. "I don't have Internet access (at home). I won't be able to do anything until they reopen."

Hezekiah, clutching a homework sheet, added, "Christmas week? I don't care."

Steps away, Pete Brant of Rock Hill scanned book titles.

"I'm kind of disheartened because I come a couple times a week to get books and hang out," Brant said.

The closing means Rock Hill's Sharen Stegall will have to delay some plans.

"I won't be happy," Stegall said as she worked on a computer. "I had some things I wanted to do here over the holidays. I guess I'll have to wait."

Library patrons can return books to the drop box in the parking lot during the renovations. Library branches in Clover, Fort Mill, Lake Wylie and York will not be affected by the renovations in Rock Hill.

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