Last week the Sebastian County Library welcomed their new Librarian Renee Myers. Myers has replaced long time Librarian Judy Clevenger. Clevenger retired after 41 years with the library due to health and mobility issues.
“I think it is time for new leadership,” said Clevenger. “It is time for new leadership and new energy to meet those needs.”
Myers, originally from Illinois, lived in Greenwood for five years and worked with the county library before leaving the area in order to gain some supervisor experience so that she could become a director.
In 2015 Myers started work at a library in Muskogee Oklahoma before returning to Greenwood. Renee earned her degree at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Myers is a regional librarian and splits her time between the Sebastian and Scott county libraries spending three days a week in Greenwood and two days in Waldron.
The Sebastian County Library is desperately in need of either renovation or to be replaced altogether. Renee stated that she is up to the task of modernizing the system.
“We are planning to add a new automation system in connection with a new website and E-resources,” said Myers. “All three of those things have to come together for us to provide the services we need to offer. It is the perfect avenue for the space that we have to work with. We can’t put anything else on the shelves and technology is getting so much cheaper.”
Myers stated that she will also be focusing on the libraries book collection as well. “I have to see what our collection policy is and then, through board approval, I am going to make some suggestions so that we can start weeding some out, because if the books are not relevant then they can’t be on the shelf. That is valuable space and we need books that more reflect our community. We need material that appeals to everyone from two to 98 as well as other ethnicities, cultures, everything. Greenwood is becoming more diverse and we need to reflect that in our collection.”
Another challenge that Myers and the library board will be facing is the building itself. The library has sat at 18 Adair Street in Greenwood since 1966 and is seemingly unchanged. The building has not been updated in over 52 years and appears to be frozen in time as the town has grown up around it.
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 waiting for the needs assessment to be presented.
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.
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.
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.