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New LaFollette Library looms on the horizon

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By Natasha LaFayette

natasha@lafollettepress.com

 

It may be cramped quarters, but LaFollette Library Director Nancy Green has made space available for over 100 patrons on a daily basis at the city facility.

Now, according to Green, plans for a new library have been set in motion.

Last week, during the LaFollette City Council workshop meeting, Councilman Hansford Hatmaker read a letter from the Rural Library Project.

The Rural Library Service came to the LaFollette Library last month to help explore possibilities for building a new library.

The group discussed erecting a new facility in the parking lot behind city hall.

The service agents commended Green for her dedication to the community and being able to accomplish so much in such a small building.

Hatmaker recommended the flea market money collected in the summer go towards the construction of a new library.

The flea market money would start a library fund, which could be added to by local citizens and businesses.

“What we are trying to do is get something started here so we can get this thing rolling on building a new lib(r)ary,” said Hatmaker.

The council questioned Terry Sweat, city finance director,  about the revenue collected for the flea market.

“I know its at least $12 to $15,000,” said Sweat.

Hatmaker said the flea market money combined with the $40,000 set aside for the library would provide a good start to the fund.

The council also discussed grants and stimulus packages to assist with building a library in rural communities.

“Together we can make this thing work,” said Hatmaker.

Councilman Bob Fannon asked where the flea market money was currently being spent. Sweat replied the money was in the general fund and was part of the overall revenue collected for the city.

The city collects two thirds of the money collected from flea market space renters.

Green addressed the mayor and council about the initiative to build a new library building.

“The library I am operating out of is busy constantly,” said Green. “By minimum state standards we need at least 6,125 square feet based on the population of the city of LaFollette. I am operating out of 1,606 square feet. So you can see how very far behind we are.”

Green introduced the friends of the library including members of the community such as Jerry Sharp, John Kesterson, Dr. Eunice Reynolds, former library director Connie Pelizzari and Jocelyn Griffo.

“There is a lot of interest in this right now,” said Green. “If ya’ll would consider giving us the $2 for every stall that opens up over there then people would see this happening and they would be willing to help.”

“If we just talk about this for years like we have since I have been here, we have talked and talked and talked. If we don’t ever start doing then its never going to happen,” Green continued.

City Administrator David Young questioned whether the city would run into budgetary issues with designating those funds to the library.

While Sweat said the city is running short on revenue so far this year, he foresees no problems with designating those funds.

Griffo spoke up saying the library is more than a place to rent books; it is an Internet café, with reference books for students and audio books for the sight impaired, she said

“It is a huge resource in the community,” said Griffo who uses the library regularly. “So wherever you can support us I just beg you to look at the possibilities. We could have a library that we could be so proud of. It doesn’t have to be the biggest thing in the world, but its got to be better then what it is now.”

Sharp then spoke to the council concerning the architectural design of a possible new library structure.

Sharp and Green explained once the building is complete the city could have the flea market money back and the old library could be used as additional space for city hall.

“It is embarrassing to me to say that we only have a building one-fifth the size to take care of the city of LaFollette because we are better than that,” said Reynolds. “I would like to challenge you to look at this as a rejuvenation of the downtown LaFollette area.”

Reynolds expressed the city already owns the property and it would be accessible to the entire city.

“I am just one of those people that says not are you going to build it but when is the foundation going to be poured and what day do we open our new library,” said Reynolds.

Councilman Bob Fannon said he doubted $15,000 would hurt the city in relation to expenses and asked for the item to be placed on the upcoming agenda.

“If we start a fund we may have some people that would be very big donors in the future,” said Councilman Wayne Kitts.

Young added that when applying for grants the city will have greater chances at receiving funding if matching funds are already in place.

According to Hatmaker, businesses in the area have already pledged support.