By Andrea Smalley
After years of planning, applying for grants, and working to understand community needs and desires, the Vicksburg District Library is launching the first major renovation to the library since 1987.
A combination of grant funding, the library development fund, and community support will provide the projected $208,000 needed to create a modern, user-friendly, comfortable space for library visitors to engage, learn, excel, and come together in community according to John Sheridan, the library’s director.
To meet the needs of the community and to provide a space and level of technology they deserve, the Vicksburg District Library will update, replace, and renovate throughout the coming months. Thanks to generous grants from local institutions such as the Vicksburg Foundation, the roof will be replaced for the first time in thirty years, and the damaged front steps will be repaired.
Existing library funds and federal programs like the Universal Service fund will provide new computers with up to date software to improve user experience at the library, as will the planned updates to the data cables and decades old phone system. Updates to the lighting, furnaces, and wiring will improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Replacing decades old worn and damaged furniture, furnaces and carpeting and interior reconfiguration are planned to reflect changing trends.
The library takes immense pride in its role as a community resource. Since that initial expansion twenty-eight years ago, the board and staff have worked hard to provide programming, materials, and space for an increasingly diverse array of community desires. “We’re a community gathering place” said Dr. Lloyd Appell, library board chair. From the brand new babies at Story Time to the Village Council meetings to the various knitting, quilting, book club, teen gaming, and family literacy groups that meet at the library, staff are continuously working to fulfill the mission of the Vicksburg Library: “To provide a place for people of all ages to access information to satisfy their informational and life-long learning needs and interests.”
While many of the needs and interests addressed in the Vicksburg District Library mission statement are unchanged – the joy of toddlers learning the alphabet through song and story, the enriching discussions of the Adult Book Club members, reference help finding everything from a doctor to a Doctor Who DVD – the last thirty years have been a time of massive change for information institutions.
Today’s library goes beyond books. Each day, patrons use the library’s computers or the free wi-fi to write resumes, apply for jobs, create invoices and packing slips for their small business, research the American Revolution for middle school homework, create a world in Minecraft, file taxes, find family through genealogy searches, apply for college and for scholarships, download the latest e-book or audiobook, and so much more. Technology tutoring, computer classes, online library and inter-library loan accounts, and the steadily growing numbers of e-book users have created an entirely new area of needs.
The Vicksburg Library board and staff are eagerly anticipating the many changes coming over the next few years, as the library improves inside and out to best serve the area. “We want to be an asset to the community,” stated Dr. Appell.