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Library Director Carol Wohlford and board members Tim Pringle and Eric Magette agree the Library Board should review all possible options for a new library at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Library board members discussed a new idea by GW Weld concerning the future of the library during their meeting Tuesday night.

Weld is interested in pursuing a shared public/private space in the parking lot across the street from the current library, which the library already owns, and would develop a building with a library on the ground floor of the building and apartments above the library.

In an interview Wednesday, Weld said the size of the building and the number of apartments would depend on what size the board wants, but he expects the building to have two to three stories of apartments on top of a library.

Weld said a shared public/private space is the best way to move forward with the library expansion because it kills multiple birds with one stone.

"I’ve always said public/private is the best way to go,” Weld said. “It’ll help to revitalize the downtown area while bringing much-needed housing to our city. And if we utilize the income from the private spaces, it’ll help bring down the cost of building the library and therefore lower the cost to the taxpayers.”

Weld said the board has not yet shot down the proposal of using the old Methodist church as part of the library’s expansion, and reiterated the board is reviewing all possible options.

While discussing the idea during Tuesday’s board meeting, board member Kenny Massey said it is essential that they consider every option on the table at this time.

 “To not explore would be disastrous in showing taxpayers that we are looking at every possible option to fund the library,” he said.

The board said Weld would likely have an official proposal by early-to-mid 2023. The board is considering visiting a library in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Country Club Plaza area that has a similar library format.

In other business, the board received a $2,000 grant to develop a Creative Corner where children can write and illustrate their own books.

Creative Corner was inspired by a local 6-year-old, who wrote and illustrated his own book titled “My Family.”

The money will be used to purchase flip books with story prompts, art supplies and other materials necessary for children to write and illustrate original stories. Creative Corner is expected to be finished early next year.

Library Director Carol Wohlford said the Creative Corner would be a great opportunity to help kids be creative.

“This is very exciting,” she said. “I think the kids will love it.”

In other business, the board is preparing for the Libraries are Essential campaign. They originally planned to make a video with people saying “We need a new library because….”

However, board member Eric Magette said they should be careful in what language they use during the campaign.

“If we are throwing out phrases like, ‘We need a new library,’ people are going to start to ask questions we just don’t know the answers to yet,” Magette said. “We can’t dangle that idea without any concrete answers.”

The board agreed to rethink its strategy in the upcoming weeks for the Libraries are Essential campaign.

Magette said this campaign is essential.

“I want people who voted no to realize all that libraries do,” he said. “That we help people find jobs. That we help people get access to technology.”

The board also heard an insurance proposal from Aflac, a first step to giving employees tangible health care benefits. The board will decide if it will help pay employees’ premiums in the coming weeks.

Reach reporter Jenna Barackman at eudoratimes@gmail.com 

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