Library seeks input on growth plans

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Outdated and cramped, the Lee County Library wants public input on plans to build a new facility with ample parking and modern conveniences.
Library officials will have two meetings next week – one at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and one at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29 – to present ideas and solicit feedback. Both sessions will take place in the library’s Helen Foster Auditorium.
“It’s the next step since the programming meetings last fall,” said architect Jay Bryan of The McCarty Co., a Tupelo firm the library hired this year to handle its initial design phase.
The McCarty Co. will perform the work with nationally known library architect Jeff Scherer of MSamp&R.
The earlier programming meetings, held in November, also welcomed public input, but they provided the big-picture vision of how the library should grow.
At the time, a national library consultant had recommended adding 60 computer terminals, six to eight times more parking space, about 100 more seats for readers, a larger children’s area, small study rooms and a 600-person auditorium.
To reach that ideal, the city-county library would need a 91,200-square-foot facility on a nearly six-acre site. It currently occupies 38,000 square feet on a two-acre site.
What are the options?
This month’s sessions will focus on how to turn that dream into a reality and what elements might need modification.
“We’ll talk about the summary of building size, program elements, goals for the design of the building itself, and possible site options,” Bryan said.
The group also will determine whether it’s feasible to expand the current facility, located at the intersection of Jefferson and Madison streets, as opposed to building a new structure elsewhere.
Preliminary studies could conclude by year’s end. At that time, library officials must decide how to proceed with the project and how to fund it.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com