TPL has ‘sites’ on new facility

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Features Editor

If there are those who are asking, "Why does Troy need a new library?"

then they certainly aren’t among the nearly 11,000 cardholders who frequent the facility at a rate of between 5,000 and 6,000 patrons a month.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Troy Public Library has a reputation for meeting the needs of its patrons in an informed,

willing and friendly manner and the word is spreading.

Each month

the library adds an average of 1,300 new cardholders to its list of patrons while continuing to provide materials and programs for all ages and all interests.

However, in recent times, Margaret Stewart, director, said the overflow of materials and patrons has necessitated more space. In fact, national and state guidelines for libraries require more space.

"We actually need almost triple the space we have," Stewart said. "We have 14,000 square feet and we need at least 32,000 square feet."

The Troy Public Library and the Friends of the Library have embarked on a grassroots campaign to raise seed money for a new facility that will meet the growing needs of the library and the projected needs for the next 20 years.

The library is literally bursting at the shelves and space is at a premium.

"Library guidelines have space requirements," Stewart said. "There has to be so much available space on each shelf. Books should not be on the top shelf or the bottom shelf. There should be so much space for each chair and table and for each computer. We are just out of space. We’ve had to give up our program meeting room in favor of other space needs. We simply must have more space."

An architect surveyed the needs and gave his opinion on how those needs could best be met.

"The architect said it would be less expensive to start from scratch than it would be to redo this wonderful building," Stewart said, adding that a new facility will cost as estimated $4-plus million.

To fund the project, the Troy Public Library board is seeking grant monies from several entities, including private agencies.

"Some of the private agencies have sizable funding – sometimes up to a million dollars," Stewart said. "Of course, these are matching grants and private funding agencies don’t want the match monies to be from government entities. They want to know that the community seeking the grant has a strong interest in libraries."

Stewart said there is little doubt that Troy has a strong interest in its library and the programs it offers. The hope now is that the library’s patrons and other members of the community will show that strength in a grassroots movement that will produce seed money for the project.

"When exploring these grants one of the first questions that will be asked is, ‘how much of the match money will not come from the city government,’" Stewart said, adding the library board wants to be able so show the Troy community’s strong interest in dollars and cents.

The monies generated through private donations to date are about $30,000, and, if used as a grant match, that amount could double.

"We have had donations from $2 to $2,000 and we had one large donation of $26,000 through a will," Stewart said. "We would ask our patrons to consider our library when making their wills. That would be a far-reaching gift to the community."

Donation match money will bring the dream of and a need for a new library closer to realization.

Just where the new facility will be located is uncertain.

"We would like for the public library to remain in the downtown area where patrons can access it easily on foot," Stewart said. "It would also be in close proximity to the municipal complex and the shopping area. When patrons are in town on other business, we would be nearby."

The library also brings people to the area adding vitality to the downtown business district.

"We have one of the best genealogy departments of any library," Steward said. "We have a large number of people from across the country who visit our genealogy department every month and they impact our town economically. We have groups who meet at the library on a regular basis and we have a large number of homeschoolers who benefit from our services."

In addition to 80,000 books, the library has videos, audios, CDs and computers with Internet access.

"The library also has journals,

magazines and newspapers for the benefit of its patrons," Stewart said. "And, if we don’t have what a patron needs, we can usually

get it for them on library loan. Our goal is to meet all of the needs of our patrons. To better do so, we desperately need a new facility and we are counting on our community to help us make it a reality."

Donations may be mailed to the Troy Public Library/Friends of the Library Building Fund, 300 North Three Notch Street, Troy, AL 36081 and mailed to the attention of Troy Public Library Director.