At the Library Board Meeting on Thursday the board heard from Jim Reynolds, the head of the property committee, about four properties around town that may potentially meet the future needs of the library.
Earlier this year the board voted unanimously to go ahead with a plan to locate and refurbish an existing building in Greenwood to house the library. Library Consultant David Price addressed the board in January and presented them with three possibilities: Construct a new library, add a third floor to the existing building or find an existing building to move into.
It was decided that new construction was out of the question due to the $1.9 million dollar price tag and that the third floor option would still not provide the needed space. Reynolds was selected to head up a committee to seek out properties around Greenwood. If a suitable location cannot be found the board may have to reconsider the other two options.
The buildings currently being considered are: The Greenwood Fixtures Building, the New Prospect Drilling Company building near Webster Street, the old Three Rivers Title Company located on the square and the current First National Bank. Reynolds stated that he has been in contact with the bank and while they are not currently looking to change locations they will however entertain an offer. Reynolds said that the bank is the most promising option to date but that if the library were to move there the building would need to be expanded.
Earlier this year Dr. Price, addressed the Sebastian County Library Board and presented the final assessment of the branch in Greenwood and found that the library is in need of space and must be updated in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Price stated that the Library needs to expand at least 10,000 square feet to accommodate the current population.
This plan would also entail keeping the old building for an administrative center. “This option would provide immediate property availability, require major remodeling and would require provision of long term budget support through annual budget support from the Sebastian County Quorum Court,” said Price.
Aside from Greenwood the study also identified a need in Northwest Sebastian County near or in Barling. A branch of approximately 1,500 to 2,500 sq ft. is recommended, but that if an inter-library agreement between Fort Smith and the county libraries could be made it could eliminate this need. Barling had their own library at one point, however it was closed due to low usage.
The Sebastian County library services more than 90,000 visitors annually.
“I believe it is time for the Quorum Court and the Library Board to move forward with this project,” said Price.
In other news long time librarian, Judy Clevenger, has announced that she will be retiring at the end of July.
“It is with mixed emotions that I take this opportunity to inform the Regional and County Library Boards that I plan to retire,” said Clevenger. “I am making this announcement early so that the boards have time to conduct a search for my replacement.”
Clevenger has worked at the library for over 41 years, but stated that her health and mobility will not sustain the challenges facing the library system.
“I think it is time for new leadership,” said Clevenger. “I think it is time for new leadership and new energy to meet those needs.”
The main branch of the library in Greenwood was built in 1966 and has remained largely the same, out of compliance and in need of an update.
The building is 5,780 square feet and can become quite cramped during special events such as the library’s summer reading program and is not ADA compliant without handicapped access to the building, bathrooms or the second floor.
The Sebastian County Quorum Court earmark $600,000 over ten years ago to go toward the construction of a new library once plans were presented to them. Since that time the funds have remained in waiting for the needs assessment to be presented.
Currently the library receives approximately $14,000 from county sales taxes and the millage brings in approximately $220,000 a year. The millage can only be used for operation and maintenance and cannot be used for constructing a new building.