Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TOP STORY >> Temple of knowledge on Main St.

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader editor

The day has finally arrived for the grand opening of the new $4 million Jacksonville library, housed down the street from the building that was its former location, built in ­1969. That building, the oldest in the Central Arkansas Library System, closed Jan. 14 in preparation for the new location’s opening.

Festivities begin with an open house at 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, and celebrations are planned throughout Saturday at the Esther D. Nixon Library, 703 W. Main St.

“I’m so excited for the people of Jacksonville,” Kathy Seymour, the branch’s manager, said. “They’ve been waiting for so long for this and I’m just so happy for them.” Construction began in January 2008. Seymour and other library staff are already working at the new location.

“We had the move on Jan. 20 and 21,” she said. “We moved all the materials over here. We had about 30 people in the CALS system help with the move,” she added.
Seymour was busy Monday preparing the library for its grand opening. “Right now, I’m just looking out at the land and hope the sodding gets completed,” she said.

“There have been a lot of different tasks,” she added. The branch houses 58,000 books. “We have had additional materials added over the past several months,” Seymour said.

“It feels wonderful. It’s quite a change from the old location,” Seymour, who has managed the library since June 2007, said about the move.

Programs on Saturday include a live performance by Brian and Terri Kinder and singers of their original children’s songs.

There will be a magic show by Michael Wilkinson at 11:30 a.m., and a puppet show by Jan Wolfe at 1 p.m. The fun, and showcase for some of the library’s additions, continues with Wii game time from 3 to 4 p.m. That program is targeted toward children ages 10 and older.

The facility will also house additional computers and audiovisual equipment for children and adults.

At 13,500 square feet, the new library has more space.

“There are new services for the public,” Seymour said.

“There are three study rooms, where there were zero at the old location,” she said.

There is one more computer in the children’s area.

“The meeting room is outstanding, with a state-of-the-art projector, and new furniture and a little kitchenette,” she said.

Seymour said she has already gotten calls from people who want to make reservations for the new meeting room.

There is also a pavilion outside of the library for use by the public.

In addition to the new books and performances on Saturday, Jacksonville residents will want to come to the grand opening for the door prizes. “We’ll have door prizes every half-hour,” Seymour said. “There is a variety of prizes, including gift certificates,” she said.

There will also be gift bags.

New library hours will be 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.

Jacksonville voters approved a temporary millage in 2005 to build the library. The 1-mill property tax, private donations, $300,000 from the Central Arkansas Library System and $400,000 in city sales tax revenue made the library possible.

Witsell, Evans and Rasco Architects designed the building, Julie Grisham designed the interior and Wilkins Construction served as contractor.

The library was named for Esther Dewitt Nixon, the first librarian at the Jacksonville Library. She was librarian for 27 years, until she retired in 1986.