Briggs Library breaks ground on newest chapter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

So maybe ground had already been technically broken on the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library $2.15 million expansion, but that didn't make Thursday's "ground breaking" ceremony any less special for library director Joe Jenkins.

"A lot of people would ask what was going on next door, not realizing that it is, in fact, the library that's doing it," Jenkins said. "This was our opportunity to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, and say 'This is what we're doing, this is us.'"

That line was drawn on the library grounds in a brief ceremony that had several political officials in attendance, from city officials to State Rep. Todd Book. Jenkins said that he had received a lot of input on the design, which would attach a new 6,000 square-foot building to the existing structure, and that input was good.

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"All the reactions so far have been positive, and I think people are excited by what they see happening," Jenkins said. "I think they're excited to see that we'll be able to do more. We'll have more space for books, we'll have more room for programming, we'll have more parking."

The project will also renovate the current building, including plans to improve wiring, windows and roofing. Also, an elevator will be added, finally making the library handicapped-accessible.

Although many are excited now, Jenkins said he thinks that may temporarily dwindle as the realities of renovation rear their heads.

"I'm sure that once we get in the project and we undergo the disruptions that we're bound to go through and the times that we're going to have to close, there's probably going to be times that they're going to be frustrated, and we hope that they'll be patient with us."

Those who like to keep a perfect library record needn't worry, Jenkins has previously stated that patrons would not receive late-fee penalties if they are unable to return books as a result of a closure.

The staff that helps keep the library running is one of those groups that are most pleased with the developments.

Children's Librarian Cheryl Blankenship said that the new wing will be a welcome change.

"I'm excited, most of the new extension is going to be children's and we really need it," Blankenship said. "In two months this summer we did 95 programs throughout the county. Children's programs is one of the growing areas of the library, plus we need the space for our books, our shelves are full."

During the expansion, visitors will have to access the library parking lot from Fifth Street. Completion is scheduled to be May or June 2006.