OGDEN — When the Weber County Main Library was built in 1968, the most taxing item to its electrical system was an IBM typewriter.
Now as the focus of the library has expanded beyond books, the library’s infrastructure is in dire need of an update.
“Library services are developed very rapidly in order to keep pace with people,” Weber County Main Library Director Linda Wangsgard said.
To examine the needs, the Weber County Library Board of Trustees approved a request for proposals to be developed to select a neutral party to evaluate options for updating or replacing the Main Library.
Wangsgard said the downtown building is in need of much help. It is currently experiencing problems with electrical wiring and plumbing.
“We are trying to see what to do next for this facility,” Wangsgard said. “We really don’t know what the options are.”
Wangsgard said the building’s boilers will need to be replaced next year, while part of the cooling system has been offline for several years.
“Our electrical supply is way over-tasked,” Wangsgard said, explaining that equipment, such as the library’s data center, is runs on a backup battery that is charged overnight.
In December, the Main Library experienced a small electrical fire. Similar problems could put a century of periodicals and other historical documents stored in the building at risk.
However, to update the wiring, the library would have to deal with other problems including asbestos issues.
“I want to make sure the library is safe and operational for people,” Wangsgard said.
The board is examining the needs of the other buildings as well.
“The buildings are aging,” Weber County Commissioner Jan Zogmaister said. “Actually, they have aged.”
Zogmaister, who is also a member of the board of trustees, said it is important for the buildings to be evaluated to see where the best place to make investments will be.
Some of the libraries, such as the Southwest branch, are at capacity, Zogmaister said. The county needs to look at population growth.
The library expects the request for proposals to be completed in the next few months.
As of now, there is no money in the library budget or county budget to build a new facility or make extensive renovations. The library system will have to decide what to do when the proposals come in.