GALLIPOLIS — Any one of the hundreds of people who have attended a recent adult or children’s program at Bossard Memorial Library might say that the space in their library is too limited, and, as the popularity of these program have grown, so too has the need for adequate space to allow for the ever increasing crowds who flock to these educational and entertaining programs at the Gallia County District Library each year.
While the need for more space may be a good problem to have, it is still a problem, according to Bossard Library’s Director Debbie Saunders, and, as luck (or good planning) would have it, both the funds and the much-needed space are available for such an expansion at the library.
According to Saunders, the library is currently in the construction document phase of the construction of an approximately 5,500-square-foot addition that will connect to the current building located at 7 Spruce Street in Gallipolis.
The new room, that will be utilized mainly for special programs, will also provide an additional quiet space for studying and reading for library patrons.
According to Saunders, current plans indicate, at full capacity, 382 people will be able to be comfortably seated in the new room, and, with tables, 175 patrons will be able to comfortably read and study in the expansion.
The decision to move forward with the project, came solely from the response of the patrons who utilize the public space and have adamantly expressed their desire to see more and better programming at the library, according to Saunders.
“What that room will allow us to do is have the programs, such as the ones we’ve currently been having,” she said. “We’ll be able to have a wider variety of other types of programs that, because of space constraints, we haven’t been able to host. We’ll be able to have those and, when it’s not in use for these types of programs, which we hope to have very often, it will be an area patrons can come in and access the wi-fi, or an area just to sit at a table and study. It will give us more space to for that — space for patrons to just come in and read the newspaper, to pick up a book off the shelf, another area for the public to just kind of get away and spend some quality time at the library.”
The addition will be constructed on the library-owned vacant lot just behind the building on First Avenue, according to Saunders, and the new room will tie perfectly into the newer portion of the building, both aesthetically and otherwise, thanks to expansion joints that were pre-placed in the portion of the building that was constructed in 1991.
Construction is expected to begin in late spring or early summer with total project completion currently projected for spring 2014, and, according to Saunders, when final model drawings of the new addition are available, these will be on public display at the library.
The preliminary estimated cost for the project is $1.3 million — the funding for which has already been saved and will come directly from the library’s building and repair fund.
“We have saved money in that fund to be able to totally fund the project, so it’s not like we’re going to have to go back out and say, ‘how are we going to do this?’ it’s not like we’re going to be borrowing money. It’s money we’ve saved for this part of our long-range planning,” Saunders stated. “We earmarked these funds in the building and repair fund to be able to cover this project and the associated costs with it.”
And, while state funding for libraries has not increased since the drastic cutbacks of 2009, thanks to the frugal nature of those holding the purse strings at Bossard Library, the local, as well as state tax payer dollars allotted to the library in Gallipolis will, in this case and always, go toward better serving the community, according to Saunders.
“What we didn’t spend at the end of each year that we felt like we could put into the building fund, we tried to allocate that and add to what we already had saved,” she said. “It is tax payer money that we try to be very fiscally responsible with so we are able to respond to what they need, and we do hear a lot of need as far as more space.”
Saunders reported in a survey conducted early last year by the library, patrons expressed their desire to see more and better educational and entertaining adult and children’s programming, a desire that is backed up by the numbers.
According to Saunders, in 2012, over 400 programs, both in-house and outside the library, were organized by Bossard. The attendance to those programs was well over 10,000 individuals.
“It just shows that people are responding, and we want those numbers to grow even further, but to do that, we have to have the space to accommodate more people,” she said.
Saunders further mentioned some of the more popular programs held annually at Bossard including the artisan fair, antiques roadshow event and the “Boo Bash” held each October, as well as the Ohio Chautauqua programs that the library hosts when the occasion arises.
“Those are just so packed when we have them, which we are glad, but we could do a lot more if we had more room,” Saunders stated. “The emphasis is just that we need more space to be able to give the public what they have asked for and for us to bring additional culture to the area. We have so many entities that do that in our area already, but we want to continue to add to that.”
In addition to the new room for programs and quiet study, the library will also be renovating the juvenile section of the library so as to expand youth outreach and in-house juvenile programs this year.
Work will also be completed on the exterior Second Avenue-side of the building, Saunders reported.
Extra parking and additional seating will be added to that portion of the facility, located at 641 Second Avenue, for the use of patrons who may want to spend time outdoors reading and relaxing during the warmer months, she stated.
“We’re trying to offer more because the community has been very supportive of us, so we want to make sure that we give back based on what the needs are of the community,” Saunders commented.
While recent surveys have provided Saunders and her team with a better idea of the needs of their patrons, she further encouraged the community to contact the library with their ideas for future events.
“We do encourage those in our community to offer feedback on the types of programs they would like to see here in Gallia County. We would like to bring that to them if possible,” she said.
Additionally, Saunders asked that community members inquiring about the upcoming expansion and renovations at the library contact her directly with questions. Saunders can be reached by calling the library at (740) 446-7323 (READ).
According to Saunders, local libraries have maintained their importance in the communities they serve, and it is her hope that, with the expansion and addition of new and better events at her library, more of Gallia County’s families will make that stop at the library a part of their routine.
“We just want families to include the library in their weekly or monthly family routine,” Saunders said. “It’s really important that they expose their children to books, to literacy, to programs at the library, just to help them be more well-rounded individuals, and we think that doesn’t stop at any age. Basically, we can all have that mentality to continue to grow.”