NCT 0131 Robotics4

Yaretzy Barragan (left) and Hayley Thompson (right) use an iPad to move a robot across the Nelson Memorial Library floor under a Lego obstacle Jan 23, 2019. The children can use an iPad program, like Wonder Workshop or Blockly, to get the robots to do different things through various levels of problem-solving.

By June 2020, Nelson County residents could be enjoying a new addition to the Nelson County Memorial Library in Lovingston.

On May 14, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support signing an agreement with Jamerson-Lewis Construction to accept its base bid, with some cost-saving changes, for the construction of the 4,600 square-foot library expansion.

The total project is estimated to cost just over $2 million.

The Nelson library was built in 1987 as a “lasting memorial” to those who died during Hurricane Camille in August 1969. Last year, the board of supervisors agreed to fund the expansion of the library and now two years later, the expansion may come to fruition.

“A lasting memorial is one that continues and in putting this addition and the alterations needed, we’re making the memorial last,” Jim Vernon, from Architectural Partners, told the board.Vernon told the board after putting together a proposed design — which includes new bookshelves at

lower, handicap-accessible heights; new, bigger reading rooms and study rooms; as well as a new roof over both sections of the library; and fixes to the current library — Architectural Partners put together bid documents in March.

By late April, Architectural Partners considered three bids from general contractors and Jamerson-Lewis Construction came in with the lowest base bid of just over $2 million. The first option Vernon presented to the board provided the county with a $2.2 million proposal that included Jamerson-Lewis’ base bid and included new trim, a new roof covering the entire library, a new classroom addition, and surge protection devices. A second proposal, $2.1 million, included less costly appliances and alternate furnishings, different sinks in the bathroom, and different options for temperature control in the library.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for Lovingston. It’s a well-used facility,” Jesse Rutherford, East District representative, said.

After the board’s unanimous vote to approve signing an agreement with the changes proposed in the second option, Vernon told the board Jamerson-Lewis could start minimal construction in June and have predicted a safe completion date of June 2020.

Susan Huffman, branch manager of the library, said she was thankful and that all the patrons of the library are really excited.

In January, a committee of 12 was formed to start planning fundraising efforts to raise at least $500,000. Pam Roland, a resident who leads the committee, said members hope to be able to fill the new addition of the library with more books, media accessories, and computers. Roland said fundraising could continue after construction is finished in 2020.

“The library is a contribution for all the citizens of Nelson County,” Roland said.

In order to raise the money, the committee created the Grow Nelson Library website, where people can contribute donations. Members are also applying for grants and writing letters to patrons and businesses, as well as children who donated money in 1987 for the construction of the original library.

“Every penny counts,” Huffman said.

According to a study done in 2009 by the Library of Virginia looking at the standards for Virginia Public Libraries, a locality with a population of up to 25,000 should have a library of between 15,000 to 25,000 square feet depending on the quality of investment.

Nelson County has a population of around 15,000 and the library is currently around 4,200 square feet.

Roland said many Nelson residents use the library not only as a safe haven to just relax, but also for the Wi-Fi, the public computers, for research, to fax and scan items, and to hold classes and display art.

“The parking lot is full when it closes with people using the Wi-Fi,” Roland said.

Patrons can still use the library while it is under construction because the project will be done in phases.

“The library is the one thing that affects everyone equally,” Roland said.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County. Reach her at (434) 385-5524 or

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