Architect hired for Shell Knob library

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

District begins project with $83,744

The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District hired the architectural firm, Paragon, to assist them in the process of conceptualizing and erecting a new building for its Shell Knob patrons.

“We were given three acres of property across from where the current branch is between The Red Barn and storage units,” said Gina Milburn, district director. “We have been looking to see if it would be possible to find land on the main strip where we could move the library.”

The library is currently located inside the Bridgeview Plaza in Shell Knob, but that location presents some challenges, Milburn said.

“The library is split in two levels, but we can only use the top level, so the branch is pretty cramped in about 1,500 square feet,” she said. “So it would be better if we can build a bigger library for the community. Not only can we not use that lower level except for meetings or storage space, but it’s not handicap accessible.”

Milburn and Library District Administrative Assistant Joyce Frazier met with architectural firms on March 26 at the Shell Knob Branch Library. The next month, qualification packets were received and reviewed from architectural firms Dake Wells Architecture; Sapp Design Architects; Ireland Architects; Parragon Architecture; and Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective, with the top three interviewed on May 3.

Paragon Architecture, based on Springfield, was selected.

“All the contractors we interviewed did a great job, but the Board really liked Paragon’s presentation, their willingness to listen to the types of things that are important, and willingness to work with our community,” Milburn said. “We’re really excited to be able to move forward with this project.”

In the last three years, the Friends of the Library group raised approximately $33,744 from community donations to help hire an architect for a new library, Milburn said.

“It’s been apparent that if we wanted to move forward with this idea, we need to have an architect on board for concept drawings so people can [actually] envision a new library, versus, ‘What am I giving my money to?’” she said.

The library district added about $50,000 to that amount, giving them a total of $83,744 to get started.

“When we had some funds left from this last calendar year, the library committed to add money into what they had already raised in order to hire an architect,” Milburn said. “After that, we hired Parragon and are negotiating on fees and what the first steps will be, so hopefully by end of summer we’ll know more. It probably won’t take all of the money [for the architect], but if you go through with a long-term project and go through a construction phase, it will usually be more than that, based on their fee schedule, and past experience.

“One reason we wanted to move forward with getting an architect was the hope that once we have a conceptual, schematic type drawing, we can show the community what we want it to look like and encourage them to donate toward the project.”

In addition, if the library pursues and passes a tax levy increase next year, they will have more resources to work with.

“It would gives us the financial power to get the capital needed,” Milburn said. “The last two branches we built new were combined (Cassville and Marionville), and I believe not everything was fully funded, so they combined the amounts that were owed and did lease purchase certificates in order to pay for the remaining amounts for those buildings. So if we don’t raise all the money, we’re hoping to do something like that.

Milburn said the Board has always tried to provide the best service to the community, and, sometimes, that means not doing something in one area, to do something new in another area.

Financially, the library is in the black, Milburn said, not red, which is a good place to be.

“That gives us a lot of power to get lease purchase certificates or a loan,” she said. “We want to be in a good financial position, so I think we’ve been pretty good stewards of the public’s money, in spite of being tight, because we do pinch pennies, and hopefully the public doesn’t see too much of that effect as we’ve been able to offer things like Hoopla, wifi and ebooks.”

The new building would ideally sit on a bluff, and staff are considering a lodge-type look to go with the Shell Knob lake theme.

“We’re hoping for that, so it can be seen from the highway,” Milburn said. “Shell Knob is not considered a city so there are no city utilities, so we’ll have to have a well and septic system. And we’ll have to do core samples to even know where to put them. And of course we’ll be getting community input on what they’d like to see in a building, and what dreams they have, as well. We want to make sure it works for [and serves] everybody.”

Milburn hopes to have more to report by summer’s end.

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