By Steve Short
Gibson County commissioners gave the green light to the building of a new county library Sept. 14, but officials did not discuss giving county funds for a facility projected to cost $5-$6 million.
Library Director Lindsey Ingram spoke about the need for a new library during the regular meeting of the county commission in Trenton.
By voice vote, commissioners OK’d making architectural plans for a new building public, allowing supporters of the project to do more fundraising.
A nonprofit Gibson County Memorial Library (GCML) Foundation group has worked for about two years to raise funds for a larger library building. The Foundation and Friends of the GCML Library have collected about $200,000 for the new building.
“The goal is to raise all funds through grants, fundraisers and donations,” said Ingram. “No one involved in this project wants the financial burden to be passed to the city of Trenton or to the taxpayers of Gibson County.”
Commissioner Mike Longmire, the county budget chairman, said after the meeting that the new library could be a “phenomenal facility.”
“They’re not asking for any funds,” Longmire said about a group of library supporters who attended the Sept. 14 meeting. “We understand their need, and we’re open to explore all options about funding. This action today just lets them go out and do fundraising and make the plans open to the public.”
Ingram said the foundation group is eyeing a possible low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We want to see how the county is going to respond to this building,” she said.
Asked about the number of library patrons, Ingram said the library in Trenton had about 34,000 patrons last year compared to 26,000 who used the Milan library.
The current library in Trenton was built in 1968 to cover growth for 20 years, said Ingram. It is no longer able to adequately meet the community’s needs, she indicated.
“Along with the age of the building are the age of all the materials inside the building,” Ingram explained, citing electrical wiring.
“Think of the technological advances in the past 50 years and how much electrical equipment has been added in that building,” she said. “The wiring has been patched countless times over the years, and we are still throwing breakers every few months. We’re out of room and the building no longer allows us to fulfill the needs of the residents of Gibson County.”
Ingram said the commission’s approval allows the Foundation to reveal the library plans to the public “in order to continue to gain support and begin fundraising on a larger scale.”
Ingram briefly described architectural plans for the new building, which include a large meeting room for up to 120 people, Children’s Library and meeting area, staff work area, covered drive-up book drop, drive-through service window, teen-young adult room, computer lab, genealogy room, and Emily B. Walker Gibson County Archives storage room.