Library hopes A/C units will help beat the heat

The Friends of the Library will gets its chance to try and cool off the Port Orchard Library’s steamy patrons, but there’s some question of whether the group’s plan will actually do any good.

Earlier this month, the group asked the city for permission to install several residential-type air conditioning units in the library. The library, they said, is partially without cooling systems and, thanks to unbroken months of hot, sunny weather, library workers are staring to get a little too sticky for comfort.

“It gets over 80,” said branch manager Linda Thompson. “There’s a lot of windows, and they pull the heat in.”

Due to some creative remodeling a few years back, only the rear half of the library has air conditioning. One might assume, Thompson said, that the A/C would spread throughout the entire building. However, unfortunately for front-desk workers, it seems to stop right at the book sale room.

“We fight over who gets to work in the children’s section,” Thompson joked.

In response, the Friends of the Library offered to pitch in $1,000 for small air conditioners for the circulation desk — an area currently served by several large stationary fans.

After some discussion, the Port Orchard City Council’s public property committee concluded it wasn’t crazy about the air conditioner idea, but wasn’t going to stand in the way of the Friends’ plans.

Committee chair Councilwoman Carolyn Powers said the committee overwhelmingly supports the idea of installing a proper climate control system in the library and replacing the current out-of-date furnace in the process. The city is currently polling local furnace system providers to determine what it might cost to overhaul the library’s current system.

Results are expected back mid-month.

Powers said there seemed to be numerous problems with trying to install window-based A/C units in a building like the library’s. For starters, she pointed out, no units could go on the wall facing Sidney Avenue — the one that sports a large mural depicting historical seascapes. It is also possible, Powers continued, library windows might have to be modified to hold the units and nearby electrical outlets might prove too fragile to handle the power required by air conditioners.

Even if all those issues are addressed, she concluded, the A/C units might not make any real difference anyway.

Others agreed.

“Those units are so inadequate,” said Mayor Jay Weatherill, who uses similar air conditioners in his dental lab practice. “A total waste of their money.”

Thompson agrees with the council that a central system would be best. She said she will wait for the bids on a new air conditioner/heat pump to be returned before acting. City engineer Larry Curles said if the price falls to the expected cost of $10,000 — or less — the city might be able to swing buying a new system.

If it ends up costing more than that, Curles said, chances are the city will have to delay installing a new system until much later.

If the new system purchase does fall through, Thompson said, the library will act immediately to acquire the smaller A/C units and whatever little improvement they might offer.

“I had just promised the staff, after the 14th day over 85, that they wouldn’t have to suffer through this next year,” she said.

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