Chapel Hill library branch proposed

Friday, June 10, 2011

As the sluggish economy continues, Marshall County's library director says she hopes county commissioners will accept an offer from Chapel Hill to cooperate for the establishment of a branch library in the town's recently opened community center.

When county residents economize on entertainment by going to the library in Lewisburg, Marshall County Memorial Library Director Jan Allen recognizes that the high price of gasoline might be an obstacle for some readers. So, with Chapel Hill Alderman Marion Joyce, Allen has appealed to county budget committeemen.

Budget committeemen were recently told that Chapel Hill will provide:

* A building for the branch library, including utilities;

* At least one computer with security programming and Internet or WiFi service;

* Indoor and outside book return boxes; and,

* Insurance and maintenance for the branch library's part of the Chapel Community Center on West Depot Street.

Allen anticipates meeting with the budget committee on the afternoon of June 23. The county has appropriated $245,000 annually for the library on Old Farmington Road since 2006. To meet the cooperative agreement with Chapel Hill, the county would need to increase the library budget to about $281,000.

"That [additional $36,000] would include Chapel Hill with limited hours," Allen said, "but it would, at least, get them going.

"Since Chapel Hill is providing for the room, the county would be paying for staffing," the library director said.

Books could be loaned about a month after the county's next budget is adopted. Traditionally, that's been in mid July. However, deliberations have continued into September during 2010 and 2009, but that's been largely because of the school budget.

Meanwhile, steps are already being taken so books can be moved to Chapel Hill.

"We've got some books that are duplicates, and when we get donations, we'll put duplicates aside," Allen said. The larger service of books "would probably be a rotation of books, meaning we would select a certain number of books, move them there for a month and then change them out periodically.

"When most branches start, that's what happens.

"We're planning on having children's books and those for adults so there will be a variety," she said.

The branch library will include programs such as story time for preschool children. The main Summer Reading Program will continue at Marshall County Memorial Library.

Extending library services to Chapel Hill and Cornersville has been discussed for years.

"We've even talked about having a kiosk in one of the buildings [in Chapel Hill] so we could have service there," Allen said.

"It's been my concern since I took over as a director, that we somehow reach out to the cities in both ends of our county and this is a great way to start serving them.

"Our new computer software allows people to put a book on reserve through the Internet," she said.

Allen has been the library director since 2001. She was hired as a library employee in 1999. The Marshall County Memorial Library building was constructed in 1974.