GREENFIELD — It might not technically be his building, but his handiwork is visible in nearly every corner of the Hancock County Public Library.
Kevin Gioe, Hancock County Public Library’s building services manager, has saved the library tens of thousands of dollars in his eight years there by doing construction work himself instead of contracting it out, by stepping up when contractors didn’t show, and by bringing his creativity to life throughout the library, said director Dave Gray.
Gioe’s work goes beyond the usual tasks demanded of a building manager — general maintenance and repairs — and into the realm of artwork.
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And those works of art are many — the new nature nook, a space in the children’s section with trees, grass and a butterfly box; a cityscape in the teen area of the Sugar Creek branch of the library; and a “Monster Garage” theme in the teen section of the Greenfield branch, complete with chrome plating and custom signage.
Much of the work, Gioe does by hand, and he often makes use of scrap materials others might have discarded.
“His expertise is incredibly helpful,” Gray said, adding that the library rarely has to call in outside contractors.
Most recently, Gioe has been working on a update to the library’s vestibule. He has designed and created a seating area near the library’s donor wall and has plans to put in a water line for a coffee machine.
He polished and dyed the concrete floor of the vestibule area, including dyeing a library logo into the floor, for a cost of $2,500, saving about $4,000, he said.
“We spend money, but we save a lot,” he said.
He cited the nature nook, which features a 10-foot tree carved of Polyurethane foam with textured hand-painted bark, as a prime example. A contractor would have charged $15,000 to $20,000 for the project, he estimated, but by doing the work himself, Gioe kept the total cost of the nature nook to $6,500.
The craftsman admits he is obsessed with Legos, and it shows — his nameplate in his office is decorated with Lego bricks, and he has created a Lego-themed area in the children’s section complete with giant Lego characters. He bought the heads for $50 each and made the rest from scrap, he said.
Children’s section librarian Kathy Riley said Gioe’s contributions to the area create an interactive space for children who aren’t reading on their own.
“They grin at you and make a beeline to that Lego area,” she said. “We want them to have that enjoyment at the library.”
Riley said Gioe’s ideas are never finished, and he is always thinking of ways to continue building on what has been completed before.
“He gets an idea, turns his creativity loose, and what we see as extra materials he transforms,” she said.
Gray said it’s hard to estimate how valuable hiring Gioe has been to the library.
“It’s not the money you save,” he said. “It’s the projects you can do.”