Decembery 7, 2006
Talks focus on library expansion
By SUE WATSON
Marshall County librarian Diane Schule and the owner of the old Coca-Cola building lot south of the library, Chelius Carter, addressed the board of supervisors recently about planning for expansion of the library.
Carter, who called himself “the reluctant owner of the infamous Coke building lot,” urged supervisors to plan for the space needs for the library’s future education goals. He is willing to sell the lot for use as an expansion of the library at cost, he said.
Carter bought the building to eliminate the eyesore in the neighborhood, donated the building to Heritage Apostolic Church, and now wants to sell the lot to a buyer that will keep the neighborhood a quiet residential area of the city.
He bought the building also to keep the lot from being developed by the city as a visitor’s center and the pollution and noise it would bring to the old neighborhood which contains numbers of antebellum homes.
After the Coke building was removed, Carter approached the county seeking to sell the lot for library expansion.
“The library is a heavily used facility and an asset to this town,” Carter said. “Young, old, black, white, male and female - everybody uses that facility which definitely needs a plan for expansion.”
Carter said he cannot afford to keep the property much longer and would rather the lot be used for a library than see it developed for housing.
“I don’t want to make a red cent on this,” he said. “But you need to plan ahead for the library which is a major asset to the city.”
He urged the county and the City of Holly Springs to work together to draw up a plan for library expansion.
“Until the county and city make a commitment - that needs to happen - there is no motivation to find the money,” Carter said.
As growth continues within the city there would be no space so ideally located to build a library to meet the community’s needs in the future, he said.
Schule said dollars for construction of the library could be obtained through grants, but the state library system cannot apply for grants from the state or private foundations until land is purchased.
The cost of construction is now estimated by the state to run about $150 per square feet. So construction of an addition to the library would be over $1 million, Schule said.
Some needs that should be addressed include a computer classroom with an instructor, conference and meeting rooms and perhaps space for county offices, she said.
“You just cannot imagine what all we could do for the community if we had some space,” Schule said, adding that the computers at the library are in continual use and the only ones many in the community have access to.
Schule described the expansion of the Hernando library and how it has helped the city.
“The library is needed to keep the downtown alive, like in Hernando,” she said. “We could (with adequate space) have travelling exhibits, parking, and green space. There are people who would help us.”
Alderman-at-large Tim Liddy with the City of Holly Springs joined Carter and Schule in their enthusiasm for an expanded library facility.
“I’m here as a neighbor, but also from the proper land use perspective. I think the city would like to see the library stay in downtown Holly Springs,” he said. “If there is any way to secure the property for use, we need to try to get it. I believe the building could be funded if we could get the property.”
A lot of libraries have a readers’ park instead of a playground area at the library, he said.
“It would be great for the neighborhood, I say, because I live there.”
Schule added that the county and state is where major funding for library facilities come from.
Bobby Mitchell, who helped organize the Marshall County Genealogy Society, also thinks the space is needed since people interested in genealogy research travel widely and stop in local libraries to do research.
Interest in genealogy has been on the upswing since the publication of “Roots,” he said.
He noted that the library in Holly Springs has been moved from place to place several times because of space needs.
“We need more space, a representative place, and where people can come and visit and leave their money here,” Mitchell said.
Gene Leonard, with Friends of the Library, asked the board to “make a commitment and make it quick.”
“I just finished teaching a class at the library, an AARP driver safety class for 27 people stacked in there,” he said. “I think time is of the essence. Act, and act very expeditiously. This does not need to be studied.”
“We need to bring in some other county agencies in the same space,” Schule added. “You can produce taxpayers, if you improve people and their employment.”
County administrator/road manager Larry Hall threw his support behind the others.
“Everybody in this room recognizes the need and benefit and potential,” he said. “I think you need to reverse the process. I think you need to seek out a plan of action through grants that would make it impossible to say no.”
He said the group needs to seek support from agencies that fund grants and find a way to expand the library with grant dollars.
Del Stover, with the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority board, agreed with Hall.
“I’d be willing to help, too,” he said. “I think we need to get working and go to the Gates (Bill Gates) and the Buffetts (Warren Buffett).”
“We’d create a definite project,” said Hall.
“We’d do research and set out what we can do,” Stover said.
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