Construction of a new library for Logan County is expected to begin soon - thanks to a $500,000 grant recently awarded to the project by the Carpenter Foundation.
According to library director Linda Kompanik, bids will be taken some time in September.
This is the second time the Foundation has been in favor of building a new library, having awarded $100,000 to the project a few years ago to help purchase property for the new facility.
“We are so grateful to the Carpenter Foundation for their support,” said Kompanik. “We were concerned we might get passed up for the grant this time around, due to the controversy that occurred over the project.”
Some members of the Logan County Fiscal Court flip-flopped on their support for building a new library early this year. Magistrate Jo Orange, who has been against building a new library from the start, didn’t think a new library was needed and questioned how much the library spent on entertaining the public, as compared to educating it. She also held issue with where the library would be built, citing that the property was in a flood plain.
Magistrates Russell Poore, Drexell Johnson, Jack Crossley and former Magistrate Curtis Watkins all said they were not against building a new library, if the library had the money up front. The magistrates were worried the library board may raise taxes to pay for the project. Magistrate Thomas Bouldin and Judge/Executive Logan Chick support the initiative.
The recent grant will bring the funds collected by the library for the building project to over one million dollars. Total cost for the project is $3.3 million.
Some of the funds the library currently has saved came from a $200,000 donation from Tilly Perry, an anonymous donation of $50,000 from a retired teacher, $5,000 from library board president, Obie VanCleave, a $100 donation per month from another anonymous donor and donations from the public at large.
Kompanik said the remainder needed will come from bonds, but assures that donations are still be sought.
“The Friends of the Library are starting a fundraising campaign,” said Kompanik.
The idea of building a new library began several years ago, when it was recognized that there was a lack of room both inside the building and out. One of the most immediate problems the library faces is parking.
The library is overflowing with people parking to use the library. Patrons are having to park on the narrow streets around the library and it is a major concern for the library board because of safety. According to Kompanik there have already been patrons hit in the parking lot and she herself is being told parking is a problem by those who visit the library.
The library draws a lot of children and Komapanik worries about them getting hurt coming in and out of the library with all the congested traffic.
Kompanik said the library board has done everything possible to obtain additional parking at the current location, including attempting to purchase a house next to the library to tear down making way for space. The board also tried to move parking to the back and side of the library, only to draw controversy in the neighborhood.
The current library, located on Sixth Street in Russellville, has been there for 44 years and upgrades no longer supply the needed changes a growing library requires. The building is owned by the City of Russellville and that also hinders the library’s chances to apply for grants that could be used for materials.
Five acres beside Save A Lot, off of Armory Drive in Russellville, was purchased in 2008 for $125,000 by the library board to put the new 14,000 square foot library. Some of the other things that will be offered by a new library include: easier access verses a small residential street, more than 100 parking spaces, an increase in size by 35 percent, a streamlined design for modern library needs, increased early children resources (early literacy computers, etc.), a dedicated young adult area, an expanded genealogy space, a larger meeting room with audiovisual equipment, two small study/meeting rooms, energy efficient, an ADA compliant building, increased lavatory facilities, including children’s and family restrooms, and expansion capabilities.
The Library’s Strategic Plan Committee’s top identified community needs are:
* Everyone will have attractive, safe, and welcoming spaces to meet and interact with others or to sit quietly and read.
* Children birth to five will have materials and programs designed to help them enter school ready to read, write, listen, and learn.
* Everyone in Logan County will have high-speed access to the Internet.
Kompanik, who has been at the Logan County Library for 16 years, has been saving all she can for the new library. “Everything we get in extra I put it in the building fund,” said Kompanik, who is very diligent in building the new facility.
This is a passion of Kompaniks and one which she and the board have been working towards for a long time. Kompanik. believes the new library will be very beneficial to the community and for future generations.
“Now is the time to dig deep and make a tax-deductible donation to the library,” said Kompanik. “Our financial adviser explained it this way: If one gives $10,000 before we sell bonds that is like a gift of more than $17,000 to the library. The savings in the $10,000 is about $7,300 we would pay in interest on that money over the 30-year life of the loan. Hard to beat a return on investment of that magnitude, both financially and for the betterment of the community,” Kompanik added.
Evelyn Richardson, former state regional librarian and long serving volunteer at the Logan County Public Library, is excited about the recent Carpenter Foundation grant and moving forward with the library’s plan of building a new facility.
Mrs. Richardson’s office was located in the Logan Library when she served as regional librarian beginning in 1967 when the library opened. She retired in 1992, and the day after began volunteering, once even as director for a few years.
“In 1967 we could not envision what was to come. The usage has just multiplied since that time,” said Richardson adding, the recent grant by the Carpenter Foundation “is a response to the public of the use and appreciation for the library.”