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Painting It: Public, Private and Special Collection Libraries

Working on a library project offers some unique opportunities for a skilled painter and decorator to really stretch himself or herself to the outer limits.


I’ve worked on over nine libraries. Four of them were new construction projects. Five were major renovation or restoration projects.

1. Smallest library. A 2-story, 14,000 square feet brick building dating back to the 1820s. Originally a mansion, the structure had gone through several previous major repairs and conversions since being donated for the county public library.

Project: It involved a carpentry crew ripping out over 40 percent of the structure’s walls. Then they reconfigured that space to accommodate for the current and projected patrons’ changing needs and preferences.

My job: I helped install commercial wall vinyl on 75 percent of the walls. On the remaining walls, we installed carpet tiles, custom cut to a template design. Also, we repaired and filled, then re-stained and re-varnished all of the wood (mostly walnut) surfaces. That included cornices, dado, wainscoting, carved moulding and trim; stair railings and banisters; elevator exteriors and interiors; built-in seating areas and bookcases in special collection rooms.

2. Largest library. A 3-story, 48,000 square feet steel and glass framed university structure. The new construction project featured an interior atrium hallway on each level, between the outer shell and outer walls of every interior room.

Project funding: Two unrelated alumni had donated 60 percent of the total cost.

My job: I helped install nine wrap around murals. Also, three of us hung over 30,000 square yards of commercial vinyl. And, we painted or stained and clear coated just about every other surface. Mainly interior trim and molding, and cabinetry.


3. Most unique library. A special collections private library. Housed in a 2-story limestone and mortar structure, the 32,000 square feet original structure, built around 1897, had been used as a private children’s boarding school.

Building features: 12-to-16 feet high walls and many rotunda/recessed ceilings with hand-carved wooden insets; miles of mahogany and dark oak wood in dismal disrepair, and water damaged; built-in wood/glass display cases with carved pediments and stationary shelving, fully paneled enclosed mini reading/study rooms; five larger meeting rooms – paneled walls.

My job: Mainly, I repaired wood surfaces and areas, then re-stained and clear varnished.

Fun element: The children’s playroom had been preserved. The new owners of the library contracted separately three of us to fully restore the 18 feet wide by 42 feet long room.

4. Most beautiful library. A private law firm’s office, 2-story, approximately 26,000 square feet. Major remodeling project.

Features: A lot of expensive Cherrywood paneling, columns and arches, decorative moulding, dado (chair rails), and ornately carved bannisters.

My job: Our 2-men crew prepped and finished all surfaces. We installed three large rotunda custom murals – all forest and wild animal scenes; stained and clear coated large built-in cabinetry, also two paneled elevators (interiors/exteriors).


5. Most challenging library. A very large public high school.

My job: Our 3-men crew removed over 15, 000 square feet of wall vinyl, then reinstalled new five monochromatic colors of “Pebble” vinyl including inside 15 built-in, lighted display cases.

Note: During summer break (about six months later), we were re-contracted to go back and spray a high-gloss, rust and scratch proof enamel on all metal book shelving.


Being an avid reader and a lifetime library patron, I’ve enjoyed working on every library. Regardless of its type, size, condition, and complexity. Of course, some of the projects stretched me much further than I’d bargained for.


Bottom line on library projects: Know what you’re doing. Take on detail and finishing work surfaces and areas you are confident in handling. Push for the best quality supplies, tools and equipment that the budget will allow. And, don’t let anyone – especially the client – push you into applying products and materials faster than the manufacturers advise, and that you can guarantee quality results!



Painting and finishing libraries can put your industry knowledge, application patience and surface wisdom to the test.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


St. Cloud Friends of the Library Pre-Renovation “Bag Sale” a Huge Success!

St. Cloud Friends of the Library (SCFOL) opened its “Bag Sale” doors to a record crowd on July 8. Over 130 people waited in line before 9 am to pay their “$2.00 per bag.” Then, they rushed inside to stuff those bags with books, e-books, DVDs, music CDs, videos, games and puzzles, etc)


When I glanced in that direction about 9:30, the “Robert Fisk Room” was crammed with bodies. A line of over 50 people still waiting patiently and politely for a few shoppers to come out, so that a few of those in line could go in. (Fire department room capacity: 65.)


The July sale was not one of the organization’s regular ones, held twice a year.


What made it unique was its non-negotiable goal: to completely empty their “Jack Lynn Sorting Room” of all donations, before August 1. Actually, July 27.


Ah! August 1. That’s the date, tentatively set by the Osceola County Manager’s Office, for major repairs and renovations to begin at Veteran’s Memorial Library in St. Cloud.  Meaning that between July 27 and August 1, they will be removing all contents from the building.


Next, the renovation construction company will erect 8-12 foot security fence around the property. CAUTION and WARNING signs will announce it as a “Construction Zone” and “Hard Hat Area.” And, the long, arduous process of gutting everything to the walls, floors and ceilings in order to fix the worn out, “sick building” begins.


As of SCFOL’s sale date, the county government had released little information about this major reconstruction project. Estimated to take four-to-five months.


. No full-color renderings, layouts, floor plans, and schematics to give patrons and taxpayers a good idea what their renovated public library will look like.

. No posted list of the names of who will be doing the work – eg. construction management company or general contractor.

. No posted list of names of who, on the government and taxpayer side, will be in charge.

. No posting of the renovation’s approved cost.


Still, members of the SCFOL achieved their goal par excellence. They sold out! They made over an inestimable number of readers and “reading households” very happy.


And, they raised over $2,200 to support and co-sponsor local library and related community programs and events in the future.


Now, that’s quite an accomplishment for the group. Especially considering that most of the core members are over age 60. And, a bit worn around the edges and along the surfaces, as the used books, DVDs and other treasures they sell!


Next SCFOL Book Sale: Spring of 2017. Usually a 3-day sale – Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Next Osceola FOL book sale: August 26, 2016, BVL branch.



Reading is a vital activity for daily independent living – and sustainable survival.



Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”


Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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