The scene: Splattered in blobs of orange, green, blue and yellow, as people step up, one by one, to hurl paint balloons at the wall.
The setting: Inside the Brunswick library, of all places.
The Marshes of Glynn Libraries staff took a creative and colorful approach Wednesday to the groundbreaking ceremony that officially kicked off the $3.5 million renovations that will close the Brunswick location for the next several months.
“Since our renovation is mostly internal, it doesn’t matter what the walls are like,” said Geri Mullis, director of the Marshes of Glynn Libraries, standing in front of posters on the wall that read “Pardon Our Progress.” “Today, I’m going to have y’all throw paint balloons at the signs.”
The posters will be hung in the library windows on Gloucester Street, to alert the public to the renovations going on inside.
County commissioners, state representatives and other local leadership and community members attended the groundbreaking ceremony and took turns throwing paint balloons at the wall.
State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, volunteered to throw the first balloon.
Library renovations are set to start Sept. 4. The library will be closed until Dec. 3. Most of its regular events have been moved to temporary locations, and pop-up libraries are scheduled to take place periodically until the library reopens.
A $2 million state grant will help fund the renovation. Glynn County will pay an additional $1.5 million for the work.
David Moore, an architect from McMillan Pazdan Smith, a firm in Greenville, S.C., has been hired to design the new interior.
Renovations will include an overall sprucing up of the whole facility. Extensive meeting space, including a space that can fit about 400 people, and two conference rooms will be added to accommodate the needs of the community.
“You are technically standing in the new meeting space for this library,” Mullis told the ceremony attendees Wednesday.
The front entrance on Gloucester Street will be moved several dozen feet east, where the library’s front exit exists now.
Other renovations will include a catering kitchen to improve food service capabilities, lowered bookshelves to let more light inside and new furnishings, carpets and ceilings.
“We’ll have a whole new layout,” Mullis said. “We’ll have group study rooms, a centralized help desk — so you’ll all know exactly where we all are when you need some help — and we’ll have some updates to our children’s room and teen room.”
And for the history buffs, she said, the Heritage Room will be expanded.
The local library provides crucial services to a wide array of community members, said Mike Martin, chair of the Library Board of Trustees.
“It represents opportunities to improve literacy, to improve skills and to match up skills with people who have other visions,” he said. “It’s a great, great resource for this community.”
The ceremony’s attendees stepped up individually or in groups to pelt the wall with paint balloons, which hit the signs with a satisfying “splat.”
Behind them, in the empty library, most shelves were cleared of the thousands of books that were on display just last week. The library’s nearly 50,000 items are in the process of being moved onto temporary carts, where the books will sit throughout the duration of the renovation.
Ponchos, gloves and goggles were made available to those who volunteered to throw paint. No one donned any protective gear, though, and by the end of the ceremony paint drops had stained many people’s outfits.
Several paint balloons bounced right off the wall and exploded on the floor.
“That was fun,” said Mullis, smiling, after the library’s staff threw several balloons at the wall together.
The event Wednesday also launched the library’s “Turning the Page Campaign,” which aims to raise $250,000 to help update the library’s print, digital and programming resources.
Donations, which are tax-deductible, can be made by mailing a check to Turning the Pages Library Fund, 208 Gloucester St., Brunswick GA 31520.
“The library has grown and has reinvented itself,” Martin said. “Now we have the opportunity to turn the page and move forward into a very exciting chapter in the library’s history.”