Group aims for new Shell Knob library

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

$2,000 donation first step toward new facility

Friends of the Library in Shell Knob, spearheaded by the group's current president, Karen Foster, have taken on the project of building a new facility.

Presently, the library is located in the Shell Knob Plaza shopping center, and the content has outgrown the storage capacity of the facility.

"The current facility is about 3,000 square-feet, and 1,500 of that is unusable," said Gina Milburn, director of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library system. "That portion of the building is currently in a downstairs area and is used as a meeting room and for children's story time, but we can't house any of the collection down there unattended. We want to add content, but we just can't do it."

Barry-Lawrence Regional Library board members approved the plan last year, and efforts got underway this year during National Library Week, April 15-19.

An account has been established at the First State Bank in Monett, with the initial donation of $2,000 from Friends of the Library in Shell Knob. Milburn assisted the group in opening the account, after receiving permission from the board.

"They've been saving their pennies," Milburn said. "We've been talking about what they want to do for a while."

The Friends of the Library hopes to raise $250,000 and have the library board match a portion of those funds.

"We have no property, architect or design," Milburn said. "We're beginning with baby steps."

While there is a .15 tax in both Barry and Lawrence counties on each $100 assessed valuation for real and personal property to support the library system, the funds generated are "just enough to maintain what we have," Milburn said.

The group will also host a book sale on Friday with proceeds going toward the new Shell Knob Branch building fund.

"The group has also made cards for contributions," Milburn said. "Once they reach their goal, the board will review the budget and consider if they have enough reserve funds available to help with the costs."

Milburn said it has taken a while for Friends of the Library to "get their ducks in a row," having taken an community survey and checking to see if there was an existing facility, somewhat larger, that could be purchased and furnishings moved.

"There is nothing suitable for their needs," Milburn said. "Sometimes, people will donate private property. That's what happened in Marionville and Cassville.

"The group is hoping to find or build a 4,500 square-foot facility on one level for those who may be in wheelchairs. Currently, if a patron wants to go into the other area of the library, it is very difficult. They also want to have a meeting room, a children's area and updated technology."

Representatives from the Shell Knob Friends of the Library organization have also toured the libraries at Pierce City and Marionville, to get an idea of a potential floor plan for the new facility.

"They took lots of photos to use in their contribution and fundraising efforts," Milburn said. "They wanted to give people an idea of what they are hoping to accomplish."

Additional fundraisers will be announced.

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