Library, County work on a bowtie deal

Published 12:10 pm Thursday, July 6, 2023

BROOKHAVEN —  Public libraries in Mississippi have to adhere to a few different rules which led to discussion and action in the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday. Libraries are not legally allowed to own land nor are they allowed to spend operational budget on construction projects. 

A deed issue left the Lincoln, Lawrence and Franklin Regional Library in Brookhaven with a “bow tie” shaped property of 1.09 acres in its name which is not allowed. Board Attorney Gregg Malta recommended the board consider and approve conveyance of land from the Library to the County. 

Lincoln County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to convey the land to Lincoln County for the cost of $350. Half of the conveyed property is a parking lot and the other is a lawn area in front of the Mississippi School of the Arts. The library was already titled to the county but the land had not, Malta said. 

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Speaking of bow ties, Ryan Holmes handed out a graphic of a proposed renovation which would be an upgrade to the library. Library director Katrina Castilaw said they are unable to spend money from operation funds on construction projects and are hoping to work with the county. 

The library’s proposed project would add a mezzanine to the second floor for a computer lab with private cubicles and reopen the meeting space on the first floor for large groups to gather. Castilaw said she hopes the project would take advantage of the large beams in the front of the library while maintaining an open space for exhibits and gatherings. 

She said the idea for the mezzanine really came during COVID when the library was awarded a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for zoom meetings. 

“We were already applying for a grant through the USDA when COVID came and the world was falling apart. We proceeded with that and got the grant for the equipment,” Castilaw said. “It was timely. We would be able to offer communication and safety for people. With all grants, you have to follow the initial plan which stated it would be used in three years. The equipment has to be done by March 2024.”

Patrons helped shape the proposed idea for a mezzanine. Castilaw said patrons like an open design of the library but wanted to maintain privacy while on the computer. Staff members are already upstairs so the computer lab would be monitored. 

Lincoln County could help pay for the project but they have to follow purchase orders and have money in the right places to proceed, Castilaw said. District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey said they would have to go through a bid process and County Engineer Ryan Holmes said they would need an architect at Monday’s meeting. No action was taken by the supervisors Monday as Holmes gave an educational presentation on the project. 

“We are waiting to see if the county is interested and if they could look for money to help us,” Castilaw said. “We are excited and we think the public would be happy with it. It would still be light and airy.”