DOUGLAS — Construction resumed Thursday on Saugatuck-Douglas's new library after a month-and-a-half hiatus during the governor's COVID-19-related suspension of most construction work.


"First thing this morning, we had a crew hanging drywall, which makes me very happy," Library Director Ingrid Boyer said Thursday. "Even though there is still a lot of uncertainty, we are excited that our project was able to resume so quickly."


Crews had been working toward being ready to open in time for the library’s summer programming to be held in the new $4.35 million Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, but the delays — and health concerns about gathering in public — mean that won't be possible.


Library staff are "cautiously optimistic" the construction of the library building, which is in its final stages, will be completed soon, provided supplier shortages don't slow down the progress. But that doesn't mean they'll be able to move in immediately, Boyer said.


Staff are busy dealing with the immediate impacts of public health orders on library operations, which has included closing the library to the public and canceling summer programming.


The library is planning to reopen in phases, beginning with only the staff returning to the building and offering curbside hold pickup, much like the reopening plans of Herrick District Library in Holland and Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland.


"It looks like some of these (reopening) stages will happen in the old building and we will not hit the later stages until we have moved to the new building," Boyer said.


Public health restrictions on holding gatherings will also prevent the library from hosting a grand opening celebration for the new building, which is the result of a 2018 millage passed by voters in Saugatuck, Douglas and Saugatuck Township.


The new building is twice the size of the current library building on Center Street in Douglas. It will feature more restrooms, quiet reading areas and multi-functional spaces. The new building will also be more accessible, since it is a single-story structure, and the additional space will give the library room to expand its collection of materials.


The new library is being built across the street from the old building.


"We are saddened by the fact that we will not have an exuberant, celebrative first season in our new building," Boyer said. "I am, however, glad that the extra space is coming at exactly the right time to accommodate social distancing requirements for both the staff and members of the public."


The library’s gradual reopening will begin after the statewide stay-home order is lifted. The current stay-home order ends May 28.


— Contact reporter Carolyn Muyskens at cmuyskens@hollandsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.