Exterior of the Ponce Library (Courtesy Friends of Ponce de Leon Library)

Atlanta-Fulton County’s Ponce de Leon Library is about to get a serious makeover.
The branch was slated to close July 15 for renovations but the date was moved to the end of August after community outcry over the planned removal 17 trees to make room for additional parking spaces and a drive-through book drop. Library officials have said they will work to preserve as many of the trees as possible.
The branch will be closed for approximately six months once work gets underway.
Fulton County has contracted with Evergreen Construction and McAfee3 Architects for design, engineering and construction management services.
“The designers have done an amazing job maximizing every corner of the space,” Fulton County Library System PR/Marketing Manager Claudia Strange said.  There will also be infrastructure updates to electric, plumbing and HVAC.
Although, the Ponce branch is part of a two-year effort to redesign and modernize 23 of Fulton county’s 34 libraries, each project is unique.  Many of the changes to the branch came directly from patrons during a series of public input meetings that began about a year ago.
“One of the big resounding cries was for some quiet spaces for studying, reading and tutoring. We heard a lot about the space having hidden areas, so we wanted to have sight lines from where the staff sit to monitor the branch,” Strange said. “There was a desire for the children’s area to have a better separation from adults. For the exterior, people asked about better lighting, better parking and ADA access, which we were already planning for.”
Two new reservable enclosed rooms that seat four comfortably will be located in the middle of the adult section.
“They’re all glass so staff can still monitor them but are a private space suited up with technology, useful for students working on a project or a small meeting,” Strange said.
The renovation also features a modernized computer lab with 20 new desktop computers with flat screen monitors. It’s located next to a much smaller staff info desk that encourages staff to walk around to help patrons.
“The children’s area will be almost half of the library and will include tables and a story time space,” Strange said. Right behind it, a state-of-the-art meeting room will be able to accommodate larger programs.
“The meeting room will be probably be the most visible transformation with new furniture, flooring, lighting, storage for staff, storage for Friends of Ponce, and all new technology, including a drop-down big screen for a presentation or movie night,” Strange said.
To encourage older youth to come in and enjoy the library, teens will have their own dedicated “loungy” space across the lobby from the children’s area.
Like all renovated branches, Ponce will also have a digital display announcing upcoming library news and self-check out. Books on hold will be right inside the lobby. Look for first four digits of your last name to grab your books, scan your library card, scan all your books at once at the self- check out machines and off you go.
For those who wish to peruse for books at the branch, they’ll find the lower shelving more accessible.
Even the book collection is getting a makeover, following the standard practice of removing books not checked out in two years.
“Weeded out books get donated to Better World Books who gives us credit to buy new books. It’s good for us because it allows us to improve and update the collection, while getting books out that aren’t being checked out. And we’re still able to move books across all 34 libraries and get them to you,” Strange said.
During the closure, patrons are encouraged to use nearby branches – Peachtree Library, Kirkwood Library and East Atlanta (closing Sept 16).  You may find the deployed Ponce staff at these or other branches or at outreach activities publicized on afpls.org and Facebook.
“While we know the closing of this library will bring some inconvenience, the result will be well worth it.  We look forward to completing the renovations as quickly as possible and re-opening beautiful renovated libraries that can serve the community more efficiently,” Fulton County Library System Director Dr. Gabriel Morley said.
That unveiling is already well anticipated.
“Friends is excited about the idea of having a beautiful library and we are starting to brainstorm about the grand opening,” Friends of Ponce Library past president Stephanie McCaa said.
For up-to-date renovation information, visit afpls.org or call the renovation hotline at (404) 613-7323.