A new chapter Library purchases adjacent property, plans to expand

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library is checking out some new property.

Lucilla Garrett, president of the library’s board of directors, said the library has purchased the building next to it. Garrett said that includes a garage, garden area and two-story former antique store. The former antique store is more than 2,000 square feet, Garrett said, and that’s not counting the garage and garden area.

“It’s really a large purchase,” Garrett said. “We’re thrilled about this — utterly thrilled. It’s the logical way for the library to expand.”

Library director Loretta Crenshaw said the purchase makes sense for the library.

“We owned two buildings with somebody else’s property in between, so at least now we’re contiguous,” Crenshaw said. “We’ll be totally contiguous down the street.”

The library won’t be expanding immediately, Garrett said. She said the library doesn’t have enough money to purchase the building outright, saying Cornerstone Bank helped the library acquire the property. Until the library pays off some of that mortgage, Crenshaw said, the new property will be leased out to help with that.

“Cornerstone has really helped us,” Crenshaw said.

“They were just wonderful,” Garrett said.

Cornerstone Bank president Jason Tennant said the bank was happy to help.

“It made a lot of sense for the library to own this building next door to help expand and do the things they’re wanting to do in the future,” Tennant said. “Of course, we felt like it was a great project for us to be involved in. It’s a big part of the community. It just makes sense.”

Just because the library can’t use the property right away, Crenshaw said, doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable asset.

“It’s an investment in our future,” Crenshaw said. “It’s not intended to be a moneymaker for the library. The intent is to pay the mortgage down so the library owns it outright and can use it as part of our property without having to rent it out to anybody else.”

The future is bright for the library, Garrett said. She said the expansion could mean broadening existing programs and adding new ones. If it were up to her, Garrett said, she’d double the computers available to patrons. Right now, she said, there are eight computers in the media room.

“I’d like to expand the media room to be double the size,” Garrett said. “It would be wonderful to have 16 computers. Every department of the library is bursting at the seams, so we do need more space.”

Crenshaw said she sees many different opportunities for the expansion. She’d like to offer more meeting space to the community, Crenshaw said, and have a dedicated space for the library’s young patrons.

“We talked about maybe having a library for children and teens,” Crenshaw said. “It would be nice if we could have space for them. We’re dreaming of a teaching kitchen and a maker’s space.”

That’s something board member Martha Fargo can get behind.

“I just see more space for the children,” Fargo said. “The existing space up there … it’s sweet and I love it, but it’s not big enough.”

The garden space offers even more opportunities, Crenshaw said. There are many suggestions for that space, Garrett said, from additional parking to an outdoor program area.

“We’re such an outdoor-focused community, but when we have something like an outdoor nature walk, we’re stuck on the sidewalk and a little strip of grass,” Crenshaw said. “We don’t have much here. The new space is wonderful.”

She’s already heard from the Downtown Native Plant Garden Project about adding native plants to the space, Crenshaw said.

“They’re really interested in making a showcase of that area,” Crenshaw said. “We want some space for programming surrounded with native plantings and plants that are friendly to pollinators.”

It’s important to expand the library, Garrett said, because most of its services are free.

“We don’t charge for anything at the library except for Xerox copies, so there’s a lot of very free stuff at the library,” Garrett said. “Every month, between 6,000 and 8,000 items are checked out from the library. Those are magazines, books, DVDs and even CDs.”

She continued, “In a town of 2,300 people, to have that many items checked out every month … that means a lot of people are using the library. In this age of technology, you’d think the library isn’t as needed. It seems to be needed more.”

Garrett said she’s grateful for the library’s staff, saying that’s what makes the library so successful.

“The library does a lot of things. They go to Peachtree every week to take books and check them out to the residents,” Garrett said. “We are trying to help every age group in the community, and we’re actually doing it. We’re helping everyone from infants to senior citizens.”

For those who would like to help out with the project, Crenshaw said the library is always accepting donations. To donate, mail a check to the Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library at 194 Spring St. in Eureka Springs. Be sure to note the donation is for the building fund.

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