See what Switzer Library's $10 million renovation looks like

·3 min read

Jun. 16—MARIETTA — Elected officials and other leaders were among a crowd eager to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Switzer Library on Wednesday.

The $9.6 million renovation project has transformed the building, offering an array of new amenities and brightening the 32-year-old structure.

"Libraries are a beacon of hope in our community. They are a place where people come to learn about different topics and where they come to learn about themselves," Cobb Commission Chair Lisa Cupid said at the start of the day's ceremony.

According to Cobb County Manager Jackie McMorris, the county's "central flagship library" ... "now known as the Charles D. Switzer Library," has been on its current plot since 1989, "serving as a major community focal point and historic downtown Marietta landmark."

From 1963 to the move to its current location at 266 Roswell St., Marietta, Switzer was housed in the old Marietta post office, now the home of the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, just off Marietta Square, McMorris said. In the summer of 2013, she said Central Library was renamed the Charles D. Switzer Library in honor of the longtime library trustee and community volunteer.

McMorris also noted that Switzer Library now houses a larger Georgia Room, home to local historical artifacts, and is the new home of the Windy Hill Library, which serves those with special needs. The Windy Hill Library was relocated to a dedicated accessibility services room at Switzer from a community center in Smyrna.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, called Switzer a "third place," a place where the community comes to gather and one that is accessible to everyone.

"Libraries are the most genuine and essential place we have in our communities," she said. "We demonstrate our commitment to our communities through how we demonstrate our commitment to our libraries."

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said the project began in 2019 using money from a voter-approved special 1% sales tax for county facility projects. But Birrell said the multimillion-dollar project was made possible by help from state lawmakers and support from Marietta leaders and community.

She ended her comments saying, with a smile, "Gritters is next." Improvements at Gritters Library, at 880 Shaw Park Road, is a project approved under the same special sales tax, and Birrell told the MDJ those improvements must get underway this year.

For her part, Cobb Library System Director Helen Poyer said the reopening of Switzer Library is a joyous occasion. Poyer told the crowd it indeed took a village to get the project, delayed by various COVID-19 factors, finished. But, she said, she couldn't be more proud of her staff and advocates of the library system.

Other speakers included Julie Walker, state librarian from the Georgia Public Library Service; Gilles LaMarche, president of the Cobb Library Foundation; and Abby Shiffman, chair of the Cobb County Public Library Board of Trustees.

After county officials crowded in together, golden scissors in hand, to cut the bright blue ribbon at the entrance to Switzer, attendees meandered about the library, exploring the newly renovated facility.

Patron services have been consolidated at a central help desk, where guests can seek reference information, check out books and get connected with the building's new services. Those include a dedicated "maker space," equipped with 3D printers and Apple computers, and a family computing space.

The building also boasts a brighter, warmer feel. Out are the drab gray carpets, dim light fixtures and burnished wood study nooks; in are fresh coats of paint, modern furniture and new overhead lights.

Other amenities include self-checkout kiosks, enlarged and renovated rooms for public use in the library's western wing and updated bathrooms. Most of the kids' areas have been moved downstairs, along with a second maker space for teens.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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