GALLIPOLIS — “Libraries change lives for the better.”
These are the famous words of American writer Sidney Sheldon as quoted by Bossard Memorial Library Director Debbie Saunders during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the library in Gallipolis.
The ceremony, held in celebration of the upcoming construction of a new addition to First Avenue side of the facility, was conducted on the vacant lot behind the building where the new addition will be added.
In attendance were not only a large group of library officials and supporters, including the staff, board members and the Friends of Bossard Library, but also representatives with the city of Gallipolis and other local dignitaries who listened as Saunders spoke the upcoming construction and the future of the institution.
“It’s a very exciting day for us here at Bossard Library,” Saunders said. “It’s with great pride that I welcome you to our groundbreaking event for our new addition and renovation.”
After more than a year of planning, the Gallia County District Library Board of Trustees recently awarded the project to Kinsale Corp. of Pomeroy for the lowest and best bid of $1,143,866, and Saunders reported that construction on the project is expected to begin the week of May 27.
The new addition will feature a large multi-purpose room/auditorium and additional space for the library’s various adult and children’s programs. Renovations will include changes to the library’s current mobile services department area that will accommodate growth in the youth services department.
According to Saunders, the funding needed for the project has been set aside by the library’s board of trustees and administration for several years, and will allow the library to fund the project without the need for loans or borrowing.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, Saunders reported on the over 115-year history of the public library in Gallipolis and Gallia County that began in 1898 when the Gallipolis Public Library first opened its doors in the Lupton Block Building on Second Avenue in downtown Gallipolis.
In 1903, the board of library trustees was formed, and the first act of this board was to accept the lot on the corner of Third Avenue and State Street in Gallipolis as the site of the library.
This new site, that was completed in 1905, is known by local historians as the Gallipolis Carnegie Building and is still utilized today as the Gallipolis City Schools Administrative Office.
In 1947, the board of trustees voted that the county district library be established to serve all of Gallia County and, more than 30 years later, in 1978, the current library property located at 641 Second Ave. was purchased by the board and the name of the library was changed to the Dr. Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library in honor of the donor.
The former warehouse facility was later expanded in 1991 to meet the needs of the community as the demand for services greatly increased.
“Now, 23 years later, we witness history again as we break ground for a library addition that will allow us to provide a wide variety of programs, both educational and entertaining,” Saunders said.
The library director further credited the support of the community throughout the library’s 115-year history as they continue to expand to meet the needs of their patrons.
“We are so grateful to the community for your support of the library, for without your support this would not be possible,” Saunders said. “We know that this library belongs to the citizens of Gallia County. I count it a privilege to be your librarian during this exciting time. As novelist Sidney Sheldon said, ‘libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.’
“It is in this same spirit that officials at Bossard Library embark on this next phase of the journey to expand the services at Bossard Library — the community center of Gallia County,” she said.
For further information on Bossard Memorial Library, visit www.bossard.org. For questions concerning the upcoming construction, contact Debbie Saunders, Library Director, at (740) 446-7323.