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Library renovation called ‘wonderful’ for community

Citizens and community officials turned out Thursday afternoonto celebrate the official opening of the Lincoln County PublicLibrary’s expansion and renovation.

Sharman Smith, executive director of Mississippi LibraryCommission, offered an encouraging message to library supportersand called the $1.07 million expansion and renovation a “wonderfulsymbol for the community.”

“It reflects the vitality of the community,” said Smith, whoserved as Lincoln County Public Library director approximately 25years ago.

Smith touted libraries’ impact on communities and theirinfluence during the country’s beginning democracy many years ago.She mentioned a variety of purposes that libraries serve, includingtheir role as forums for public discussion and information.

“That is no different today, and this community can be veryproud,” Smith said.

Smith said the expansion represents community leaders’ belief insupporting its people. She also said the expanded library will helpdraw business to the community and serve as an equalizer forcitizens, regardless of background.

However, support of the library is not complete, Smith said.

“The renovation and addition to this building are just thebeginning,” she said.

Smith said citizens will demand more services from the libraryand community leaders will be challenged to meet those demands.

“Use it, enjoy it and support it, and it will serve you well,”Smith said.

The project, which began in April 2001 and was completed in Julyof this year, was funded with a $500,000 grant from the statelibrary commission and a matching $500,000 bond issue authorized bythe county board of supervisors.

Dr. Russell Burns, chairman of the library’s board of trustees,expressed gratitude to the library commission and supervisors fortheir financial contributions. He thanked the city for itsassistance with parking and traffic flow issues related to thelibrary project.

“It’s been an honor and privilege in playing an important rolein making the funds available,” said District 3 Supervisor andBoard President Nolan Earl Williamson.

Danita Hobbs, Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commercepresident, praised the library as a valuable resource for thecommunity. Chandler Russ, executive vice-president, said county andcity leaders deserve credit for their support of the expansionproject.

“It’s truly going to be an asset to the community,” Russsaid.

The library expansion includes approximately 8,000 square feetof additional space, bringing the total library area up to about20,000 square feet. In addition to making the library more spaciousand functional, it has been made handicapped accessible andincludes new restrooms and a meeting area for communitygatherings.

The highlight, though, is an expanded children’s area. Aninteresting aspect of the children’s area is a child-level windowfor younger library users to enjoy.

While visiting with guests Thursday, Burns said he initiallyquestioned having the window. However, he indicated he wassurprised at its popularity.

“Every child goes to that window,” Burns said.

The addition and renovation was the second since the library wasbuilt in the 1960s. Smith, who oversaw the addition of a mezzaninearea during her tenure, praised library officials for their work toimprove the building.

“I am amazed at what the library board and library staff haveaccomplished here,” Smith said.