The Brownsburg Public Library is undergoing some big changes this year, but it’s spearheaded by a woman who has been there for more than 30 years. Denise Robinson has been the Brownsburg Library Director since 2014, but her roots at this library started in 1986 when she was a junior in college and worked as a page shelving books.
Robinson nearly diverted from her path in library services in college. She got her business degree from IUPUI and considered accounting. But she began to consider the work, the hours and the clientele, and she remembered how much she loved being at the library.
“I decided to get my master’s in Library Science,” Robinson says. “I never looked back. I love reading, but I also love our atmosphere and everyone’s desire to serve here. What we do helps people, and it’s very rewarding.
Over the years, Robinson worked her way up. She began as a page shelving books, and from there, she moved on to customer service. She stepped into bookkeeping for 10 years and then served as assistant director for 10 years. In 2014, the director at the time retired and Robinson was hired.
One of the biggest projects on Robinson’s plate right now is the long-awaited renovation taking place at the library. These improvements were planned specifically for this year because the library’s bond ending in 2019 allowed them to issue a new bond, which lets taxpayers keep the same tax rate and not pay any additional money for these improvements.
When the Brownsburg Library underwent its last renovation 20 years ago, it doubled in size from 25,000 to 50,000 square feet. Robinson says the current renovation won’t add space as much as it will change the space. This reflects the morphing of public libraries over the years from a place to get books into community hubs.
Leslie Smyser, who has worked at the Brownsburg Library for 34 years, has noticed the change and feels the renovation will contribute to the community feel of the library.
“The library has changed a lot,” Smyser says. “It was a place to come and borrow books. Now, the patrons still borrow books, but they will stay for hours. And we have so much more to offer: computers, internet, meeting rooms, tech help, movies, ebooks, free notary, rokus hot spots and so much more.”
The outside trombe wall along the west side will be dismantled and become a glass wall. All of the bathrooms, storage space, library shop and staff areas along that wall will move interior, and the area along the glass wall will be public space, and during the construction, they will temporarily use shipping containers in NYC to keep everything organized. The rest of the library will get new carpet, new flooring and LED lighting. While the library currently has a lot of wood finishes with warm, cozy colors, the new look will be clean, modern and neutral with a more contemporary style.
The number of study rooms will triple from three to nine, and they will be updated. The teen and tween program area will also be updated and more inviting for that age group by having a larger, more defined space. The book stacks will also have a better flow, and the Children’s Department will get a facelift.
The library celebrated its centennial birthday last year, and to preserve some of its history, there will be a brand-new storage and collection space for those interested in the past, where the library started and the history of the town including old photographs.
Smyser feels the changes will improve the look and the opportunities at the library.
“I feel like the patrons are going to be like ‘Wow, we have a great library in our community,’” she says.
During renovation, Robinson’s goal is for the work not to impact the public in any way.
“Some things might move around, but it will all be accessible during the entire project. That’s our number one goal,” she says.
Patrons can expect all programming and schedules to continue as usual this year as renovations are being completed.
As a Brownsburg High School graduate, Robinson is happy to be a part of the community she grew up in. Her goal is to retire from the library. One thing she loves most is that every day is different and, with these renovations underway, that’s even more the case this year.
“I come with my list, and it never gets done,” Robinson says. “I do a lot of paperwork and prepping for board meetings, but sometimes I get to cover the desk, work the return room or shelf books. Some days I get the ability to do what I want and connect with people. I love this work. I love this environment. I love who we work with, and I love who we serve. I specifically like Brownsburg because it has a great culture and the community is awesome.”
While the ultimate scheduled date for completion is November 7, the Children’s Wing will be completed by April 30 just in time for the summer reading program to begin on June 1.
The Brownsburg Public Library is located at 450 South Jefferson Street. For more information, give them a call at 317-852-3167 or visit them online at bburglibrary.net.