City solicits input on Madison library expansion - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

City solicits input on Madison library expansion

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Officials acknowledge the desire to combine a centralized community hub and a versatile media facility. Officials acknowledge the desire to combine a centralized community hub and a versatile media facility.
MADISON, AL (WAFF) -

Members of the Madison Murder Ink book club professed some big ideas for changes at the Madison City Public Library, make it bigger.

"The population here has grown so much and the population is the kind of people who use libraries," exclaimed Murder Ink member Joyce Mastin.  "It's become such a valuable asset but it needs to be enlarged.     There are so many things that we liked to do at the library, things we'd like to expand at the library.  

The city is currently refining plans for a roughly $4.5 million expansion of the library and this week it has been soliciting public input on what a public library should look like in the age of websites, tablets and smart phones where people turn for information.

Toni Garvey, Director of the Phoenix Public Library and a library consultant, has been helping the city craft a plan for the library expansion and found support for the library surprisingly strong.  85% of the people here have a library card," she said.   "And they have an active library card.  So that means they're using their library on a regular basis.   This is one of the most well used libraries that I have seen, looking across the country." 

In asking for input, Garvey observed the common desire for a centralized community space where people can get together to seek information as in the classical library, but also to find art, music and entertainment in a versatile facility flexible enough to handle the many changes that constantly come in the libraries of the 21st century.

"We have collections and what's in those collections changes, a lot," she observed.  "From year to year, decade to decade.  So, we'll have some materials.  We know what we have now but we don't know exactly what we'll have in 10 or 20 years."

"You know, you can Google anything," pointed out library branch manager Sarah Sledge, "but you may not be getting good authoritative information.   The library is a place that can help the public connect with that information."

Mastin and fellow book club members called for a little love for their community.  "We'd like to have a book club room," she said.  "It doesn't have to be specifically dedicated to the book club but someplace…"

"That we don't have to share with the children and their glue and their paste and a few other things," a friend chimed in. 

"But we like the idea of having a nice comfortable room where we can sit," Mastin finished. 

"The library is more vital and crucial to our community and to our society today than it ever has been," said Sledge.  "People are able to access information from so many different places and so many different formats in today's world that they need one centralized comprehensive place that they can come."

The city plans to engage an architect to design a library expansion after a thorough analysis of the community's needs and desires for the library, possibly early in the new year.

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