The future of Medford's Carnegie Library building has been up in the air for a long time. Details of its long-term use are still murky, but renovations set to begin next week are a welcome sign.

The future of Medford's Carnegie Library building has been up in the air for a long time. Details of its long-term use are still murky, but renovations set to begin next week are a welcome sign.

The work will prepare the building to temporarily house Medford city workers, including the Police Department and Municipal Court, while City Hall is remodeled from November through next July.

That was a prudent move on the city's part, because not using the Carnegie would mean paying thousands of dollars a month to rent temporary space elsewhere. This way, the money the city spends will improve the Carnegie building and lay the groundwork for future remodeling after the city staff moves back into City Hall.

And that future looks bright.

Members of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects have made the Carnegie a community service project, donating design work for future changes to the building. They deserve the community's gratitude for their generosity.

Meanwhile, the city's Carnegie Commitee, which has worked for a year on plans for the building, is seeking grants and donations to help pay for remodeling that will preserve much of the historic structure as public space.

Mayor Gary Wheeler, who formed the committee, deserves much of the credit for the progress. His leadership helped revive a planning process that had appeared to stall after the Medford Central Library moved out of the building in 2004.

Wheeler says the initial renovation beginning next week will help the project qualify for grants. Eventually, he says the committee envisions a center for community activities, along with some office space that could be leased out to generate income. Long-term plans include restoring the front of the building facing Main Street to its original look and moving the elevator that now occupies the main stairwell into a new addition that would also accommodate restrooms and handicapped access.

He also says the commitee may ask the city to vacate Ivy Street between Main and Eighth streets, connecting Alba Park and Library Park into one unbroken open space.

Built for the city by the generosity of Andrew Carnegie nearly a century ago, the Carnegie Library can be a centerpiece for Medford for years to come. Wheeler and his committee deserve credit for keeping that vision alive.