Meridian Star

April 1, 2013

Library undergoes changes

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     It has been many years since the Meridian / Lauderdale County Library has undergone a complete makeover.

    But springtime, a time of rebirth, seemed like a good season for library Director Steve McCartney to tackle such a project.

    "We are changing the whole shooting match," said McCartney Thursday as he watched a contract worker spread paint over a wall in the children's section of the library. "We started this project with the weeding out of dead books and we won't stop until this entire facility is completely finished."

    McCartney said the project will encompass painting every wall, disposing of old books that collected dust and took up space on the shelves, remodeling bathrooms to make them disabled compliant and replacing carpet. McCartney said the cost of the project is in the neighborhood of $130,000.

    "The great thing about that project figure is that it isn't costing the taxpayer a single dime," McCartney said. "This project is solely funded out of our general fund."

    McCartney said years ago library board members lamented there was no rainy day fund for the library so he took it upon himself to grow one.

    "If we didn't really need something, then we didn't spend the money," McCartney said.

    McCartney said the general fund has enabled the facility to avoid going to city and county officials with what he termed, "Our hats in our hands begging for funding to do this."

    "It feels really good to be able to do this on our own," McCartney added.  

    McCartney said the first item on the renovation list was to get rid of the dead books that for so long had not been used or checked out by the library patrons. In all, McCartney said more than 40,000 books were boxed up and shipped to a recycling plant.

    "That's why the shelves look bare in some places," McCartney said. "We will be addressing possibly replacing those books with newer, more relevant copies in the future."

    McCartney said the building is more than 50 years old and this is the first full scale renovation. He said he wanted this done mainly for the patrons, more than 225,000 of them annually, who support the library.

    Thursday a painter was busy transforming the children's section of the library with a vibrant hue of red. McCartney said the wall and the area in general will be brighter and more interesting for the children in hopes of encouraging reading skills.

    McCartney guesses it will be about six to eight more weeks before all the work is completed. He asks the patrons to be patient with all the activity going on inside the library.

    "We are excited about this and we are sure when it is all over with the patrons will be excited as well," said McCartney.

    The library will be closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the renovations. Later this year, McCartney hopes to have a grand celebration for the 100th birthday of the Meridian / Lauderdale County Library. By then the facility will be showing off its new look.