The Upper Arlington Public Library plans to make reading a little brighter at the main branch.

The Upper Arlington Public Library plans to make reading a little brighter at the main branch.

The library board voted unanimously at a special July 20 meeting to grant contracts to both the Columbus-based Professional Designs company and Converse Electric in Grove City to install new lighting fixtures that would provide better lighting and be more energy efficient.

The lights will be installed throughout the main branch, except for in the children's area, which already received new lighting fixtures.

Library contracting consultant John Forgos, president of John Forgos and Associates in Dublin, said the project would cost $191,620 slightly over the engineering estimate of $190,000.

The library plans to pay $59,720 to Professional Designs and $131,900 to Converse for the new lighting fixtures.

"This is as good as it is going to get," Forgos said.

He said the library thought about doing the lighting project about three years ago, but experienced "technical problems" with the bids.

He said the bids at that time came in at around $250,000 almost $60,000 more than the library plans to pay in 2010.

Mark Shy, a library board member and owner of a local contracting firm, said the new lighting would add a lot to the main branch.

He said the new lights will be T5 fluorescent lights, which look like normal fluorescent lights but are more energy efficient. The current fluorescent lights are T8 bulbs.

"These are highly efficient," Shy said.

Because of the efficiency, the library expects to receive a $5,000 to $6,000 grant from AEP.

In addition to diminishing its carbon footprint, the library expects to save close to 10 percent on its monthly electric bill, Forgos said.

The main library currently pays an average of $8,708 each month for electricity, according to library community relations manager Ruth McNeil.

Shy said the savings would add up quickly.

"We will see the payback in five years," Shy said.

Library director Ann Moore said the lights will be significantly brighter than the current ones, which were installed in the 1980s.

"It is old, and it uses a ton of energy," she said. "We get constant complaints about how dark it is. The lighting is so bad. The way the stacks are aligned, a lot of the light doesn't come into the stacks."

Moore said the library is being a good steward of taxpayers' dollars.

"We have a responsibility to keep our facilities in good order," she said. "It's also a safety issue to have proper lighting."

The money for the project will come out of the library's building fund.

Voters approved a 2-mill, five-year levy in May 2007.

Forgos said he expects work on the lighting project to begin in about 30 days, when the light fixtures that currently are on order arrive.

He expects the bulk of the project to be completed by Nov. 19.