The Sharp County Library Board conducted their regular meeting April 7 at First National Banking Company in Hardy. A special guest for the meeting was Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton.
President Jan Abel called the meeting to order and welcomed guests. A special guest for the meeting was former Williford librarian Crystal Coble.
Coble was presented a plaque from the library board for her dedication to the library. After reading of the previous meeting minutes, Thornton spoke to the group about a possible expansion to the city's library to accommodate a children's library and requested the board's permission to write the grant and apply for funding in the form of a grant.
Thornton provided the group with drawings from local architect Larry Bronson. The rendering detailed the new building and stressed the historical significance of the structure. The total square footage of the proposed expansion would be 1,500 square feet, with the existing structure; this would create a total size of 4,500 square feet for the library. Hardy Librarian Cecilia Mullins was also present and helped to explain the drawing and plans for the new facility.
Thornton explained that, "There are grants out there and somebody is going to get them, it might as well be us." She said statistics prove that the state's literacy scores are going down, and this can be attributed to not building libraries as has been done in the past. She said in the past the summer reading program hosted by the Hardy Library has been very successful, resulting in the program having to be hosted in the Hardy Fire Station. She said White River Planning and Development needs two grants for the project, one for the initial grant and one for matching funds. She said one would be for $100,000 and the other for $200,000. She said the first would be for matching funds and the building only, while the other will be for anything else needed. She also told the board that the land behind the initial structure has been donated to the library by the land owner, Simmon's First Bank. This in-kind donation of the property value at $30,000 will also contribute to the required matching funds for the grant.
Thornton said the Hardy City Council has agreed by resolution to pay the utilities in the event the grants go through and the project becomes a reality. She said because the area is 85 percent or below poverty, this provides the 100 percent funding of the project. The architecture will be as close as possible to that of the existing library. Thornton said the city will receive approval or denial of the possible grant within four months.
Thornton said in the past this type of opportunity has presented itself, but because the grants were historic in nature, the city council would not approve them. She said this is a wonderful opportunity for the city and stressed that the library expansion would benefit everyone. The drawings of the proposed library expansion are available at both city hall and the Hardy Library.
In other business, the card catalog that has been given to the Williford Library was discussed. Because of family illness, Marilyn Bischoff, a strong proponent who is responsible for helping the city obtain a grant for a new library, was unable to pick up the catalog from Batesville. Board member Randy Hodges agreed to pick up the card catalog and store it until the Williford Library's completion.
In other business, the board agreed to allow regional librarian Debra Sutterfield to check into prices for increased insurance coverage for libraries in Sharp County.
Bischoff updated the board on the progression of the new Williford Library. She said the state approved the updated drawings and they should be ready for bids in the next few weeks.
In other business, the board reviewed requests for materials and other items from the librarians in Cave City, Evening Shade and Hardy. Cave City will also be adding a 390 square foot addition onto their facility. Hodges offered considerations for fulfilling the needs of the new addition, including getting pricing for furnishings from the prison system. This was something the board agreed could be tabled until the next meeting. Cave City requested new shelving, carpet and desks as well as supplies for their summer program and permission to pay substitutes two hours a day four days a week.
After some discussion regarding Abele's comment to Hodges stating, "We are sorry we can't grant all the requests." Hodges said, "The librarian deserves to have this new space look nice for the public, I am sure there must be some way to furnish it the way they deserve it to be." Abele referred Hodges to the Friends of the Library, stating that was the way Hardy received a lot of support. Hodges agreed to find more economical alternatives to the prices given for the requests, including shelving and desks from the prison system.
Financial information was then reviewed. The Sharp County Regional Library Board meets quarterly. The public is invited to attend these meetings.