There will be much to check out Saturday during the grand reopening of the McCreless Branch Library. The Southeast San Antonio facility was closed for two years for a $2.5 million makeover, which includes technology updates that will help bridge the area’s digital divide.
The renovations were made possible by the City of San Antonio’s 2017-2022 Bond Program. According to the library’s project budget, construction cost approximately $2.2 million, $455,097 was spent on design, $2,036 on environmental costs and $11,250 went to public art and design enhancements.
“Improvements were really needed,” said Kathy Donellan, assistant library director for support services. “The bond is really important to keeping our facilities up to a very excellent standard and providing all the services that the library provides to the community.”
Since the library’s last update in 2000, some key improvements included refreshed technology, upgrades to common spaces with embedded technology and restroom renovations. Dedicated spaces for children and teens were added to the library, along with study rooms and a lab for adult education.
Most of all, curb appeal and visibility were essential to the renovation, officials said. A monument sign, improvement to the building’s facade and a marquee sign are expected to improve traffic to the library at 1023 Ada St.
“Before these improvements, you could really drive by that branch and not necessarily realize that that’s the library,” said Donellan.
The bond program also provided for the hiring of an additional staff member to oversee the adult education lab, called Learn at SAPL (San Antonio Public Library).
Lodie Mueller, who is a training officer for Learn at SAPL across four libraries, will teach technology, literacy and English as a Second Language, as well as provide career assistance and General Education Development (GED) test preparation resources.
Mueller said the SAPL uses a tool to indicate areas of the city where people are least likely to have access to the internet in their homes. The Southeast Side was one area that lacks digital resources.
“We’re just really thrilled to provide an accessible location,” said Mueller. “A lot of times people in this area may have transportation issues as well, so we are excited to be part of trying to help digital inequity and more digital inclusion.”
Mueller said the Learn at SAPL lab also will connect adults with resources like childcare.
“We hope to see people grow and meet their own goals,” Mueller said. “Whether it’s finding a job that will earn them more money or a job, period, or to learn how to be able to use technology to video chat with their grandchild.
“We just hope that people feel empowered and to have the skills they need to do what they need to be successful in their lives.”
McCreless Library’s grand reopening celebration Saturday begins at 11 a.m. District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran, SAPL Director Ramiro Salazar and Josie Martinez, SAPL Board Representative for District 3, will be among the attendees.
The McCreless Branch Library was one of six library projects that received funds from the bond program.
The other libraries undergoing renovations are: Forrest Hills Library, Memorial Library and the Texana Resource Center at the downtown Central Library and renovations on the facility’s first and third floors. In addition, the Las Palmas Library will close later this year for a $1.7 million makeover.