Leader Blues

Monday, February 16, 2009

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville’s new library is open to public

By NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writer

Invited Jacksonville residents packed a sneak preview Friday night of the new Esther D. Nixon Public Library that their tax dollars helped build on Main Street.

Visitors were pleased by their first look inside the library, considered an anchor for downtown revitalization.

It opened to the public Saturday.

“It is a great day for the city of Jacksonville; it is a wonderful improvement for our community,” Mayor Tommy Swaim said.

“The library was not located here by accident. It was located here because this is the center of the downtown of Jacksonville as we once knew it. This makes a statement for all to see. We are not moving backward in Jacksonville. We are moving forward.”

“It is fabulous, it is beautiful. I’m just glad we could get it on Main Street,” said Alderman Marshall Smith. “This is a real plus for Jacksonville.”

“This library is great. It is new. It’s pretty. It is attractive from the outside. It has got that dignified library look from the outside. You know it is a library,” city administrator Jay Whisker said.

In a brief program, several speakers proclaimed the new library as a tribute to what a caring community and government can accomplish together.

“This is a good example of a community coming together; it will serve the community well for many, many years,” said Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Mark Wilson, who represents Jacksonville on the CALS Board of Trustees, told the group that 68 percent of Jacksonville voters approved the 1-mill increase in property taxes that helped make possible the new library.

“I want to thank my fellow citizens of Jacksonville for support of this project,” Wilson said. “This is proof that the citizens of Jacksonville will support quality educational institutions in Jacksonville.”

Wally Nixon, the son of Esther Nixon, called the new library “a great tribute to what can be done by government, a crowning achievement in the heart of town. My mother would be thrilled by what has been achieved here.”

The new 13,500-square-foot facility is one of 12 libraries in the Central Arkansas Library System. It replaces what had been the system’s oldest library.

The $4.8 million land and building project was paid for with a combination of revenue from a temporary 1-mil increase in property tax, city sales tax revenue, private donations, a contribution from CALS, and a bond issue.

The library opened officially Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with a day of special events beginning with a musical performance by Brian and Terri Kinder at 10 a.m. Other activities were a magic show by Michael Wilkinson at 11:30 a.m., a puppet show by Jan Wolfe at 1 p.m., and a Wii electronic game time for children age 10 and older from 3 to 4 p.m.
The new library has new hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. The library’s new phone number is 457-5038.