During the past two months, the Pickerington Public Library's main branch has seen a number of changes to its interior decor.

Although library staffers said they are always mindful of keeping the library's look fresh, there were more than aesthetics behind the recent rearrangement of furniture and portions of the main branch's collection.

Library director Tony Howard said the changes are part of a two-year operations plan launched this year to make the collection more user-friendly.

"The initial steps were to go through our adult collection and get rid of items that haven't been used by the public in more than two years," Howard said. "This freed up space to allow for increased seating in the library."

Additionally, library staff members sought ways to address an influx of 200 to 400 patron visits -- driven largely by Pickerington Schools students -- it experiences between 3 and 6 p.m. weekdays.

"In order to better manage the crowds without adding additional staff, we felt it necessary to drastically alter the footprint of the main library," Howard said.

There are five phases to the initiative.

The first, completed Aug. 10, included moving the library's teen area to the center of the building.

Phase 2 involved moving the adult audio/video section to the old teen area and re-cataloging items so they are more easily found by patrons. The phase was completed Sept. 8. It included reclassifying DVD and Blu-ray materials into subject categories.

Phase 3 is expected to be finished Oct. 10 and includes moving magazines to shelving in the atrium.

Phase 4 is slated to be completed Oct. 31. It includes removal of excess shelving from the atrium.

The fifth and final phase isn't expected to be completed until Dec. 31. It will result in changes to the customer-service desk and workroom.

"By moving the customer-service desk and expanding the staff workroom, we will be able to make workflow efficiencies that will save the library money and improve processing times of materials," Howard said. "This will allow our customers to access materials more quickly."

Library employees said they hope the changes will create a more customer-focused and friendly atmosphere throughout the building while also reducing noise on the east end of the library, particularly outside the small conference rooms and quiet study room.

Howard and the library's community-engagement manager, Colleen Bauman, said they hope the moves also would open the atrium for events and provide more reading spaces.

"We've moved some things around, reorganized the library a little bit," Bauman said.

"These empty shelves that were full of DVDs wrapped all the way around," she said. "These shelves are going away to make (the atrium) open for events and classes and when we do 'Santa Saturday' and things with our summer reading, we'll actually have space to do that."

Bauman said some of the moves initially threw a curveball to regular visitors.

She said new endcap signs should provide direction for guests.

Howard said the changes were made at no cost.

He said they were driven by staff observations, customer feedback and project necessity.

"We used decades of combined experiences by our library professionals to help us plan out these moves," he said. "We are always striving to meet the needs of our users and community.

"These changes help meet those current needs."