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Renovations wrapping up on North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library space

Renovations wrapping up on North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library space

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Sally Holewa, state court administrator for the North Dakota Supreme Court, talks about the nearly completed renovation to the court's law library. The remodeling project presented a shift away from books to electronic resources and a cost savings of $400,000 per biennium. 

Nearly $1 million in renovations on the North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library space are all but complete.

The 2019 Legislature budgeted $970,000 for the project in the Judicial Wing of the state Capitol. The remodel was proposed to save $394,000 in costs every two years, including $253,000 for rental space in downtown Bismarck for the judiciary's information technology staff.

State Court Administrator Sally Holewa said the project still has a few "walk-through items" to complete but is "move-in ready for us." Some construction costs and the architectural fees are not all in, but Holewa expects the project's total cost to come in a little under budget. 

More than 72,000 books were discarded, donated or digitized, and the area was converted to office space for IT staff and justices' law clerks. Many books remain in storage for culling. Holewa expects that process to continue for six to eight months.

Some IT staff offices and conference rooms have been designated for state lawmakers during the 2021 Legislature. Lawmakers are utilizing spaces throughout the Capitol for physical distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Judicial IT staff have been working from home and rotating in and out of the offices, and will fully move in after the legislative session, Holewa said.

The Legal Self Help Center is still available for the public, but the space is no longer "a public browsing library," she said. What books were retained are specifically for self-help or for district judges and Supreme Court justices.

"It'll be a whole different way of approaching it," Holewa said. "A lot of our customers that came up here liked to spend time in the stacks."

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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