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Harriman library may have period lighting, updates

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By Cindy Simpson

The century-old Harriman Public Library will be showing its age a little better soon.
The facility, which is one of the historic libraries built with funds from famed industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie more than 100 years ago, wants to use TVA restitution monies it received in the wake of the Dec. 22, 2008 ash spill to continue work to return the library to more of its period look.
The Harriman City Council approved bidding for the newest improvements, including lighting on the desks, repairing the front stairs and entryways and making office space in the third floor area, which is currently used for storage.
“They want to take it back to period lighting,” said Bill Milburn, with Southeastern Contractors.
Milburn said that to get ideas, the library board had visited the Carnegie Library in Nashville that his company had rehabilitated about six years ago.
Milburn estimated the Harriman work to be around $125,000.
Barbara Pelfrey-Milsaps said recent handicap accessibility changes have helped those who cannot use the front stairs to get inside, but the stairs themselves have been problematic as well.
“There have been two people fall down the stairs and have to go to the hospital,” she said.
“The stairs don’t meet codes in any way,” Milburn agreed.
Not that long ago improvements, including adding an elevator to the lobby, were completed.
Pelfrey-Milsaps said the library is a popular place.
“I feel it is used much more than the city realizes,” she said.
This past year the library had 28,342 visitors.
The library will be having a used-book sale the day of the Hooray for Harriman Labor Day Festival downtown.