05/08/12 — Final tweaks made to Mount Olive library plans

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Final tweaks made to Mount Olive library plans

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 8, 2012 1:46 PM

Construction documents for a new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive are expected to be completed today, reviewed by county staff on May 22 and ready for Wayne County commissioners to act on at their June 5 board meeting.

Wayne County Library Director Donna Phillips told commissioners at their work session last week that "minor tweaks" had been made to the library plan since her last update in February.

Some changes had to be made to the roof-line because of fire code regulations, she said.

Construction costs to turn the old Belk's department store on West Main Street into the library's new home are estimated at $2.65 million, with furniture and fixtures adding about $500,000, for a total of $3.1 million. Design fees will account for about $311,000 for a total project cost of $3.4 million.

A grassroots fundraising effort has raised $351,000 to cover the design costs for what will be a regional library serving the southern end of the county.

"I can say that I don't go anywhere in Mount Olive that somebody doesn't stop me and say, 'What's the latest on the library? When are they going to start on it?' 'Soon, soon, I hope,'" said Lynn Williams of Mount Olive, library trustee and who chaired the fundraiser. "So I am here to say. 'Hurry up, soon.' But it has been a lot of fun. People are very passionate about their library in Mount Olive. We have had a good time looking at other library facilities and thinking, 'Oh, my. We do not want that there.' Or, 'Man, that would be neat to have.'

"I think some of the features at the library -- interior lighting was really important to us. That is part of the design to allow natural light into the interior; to make it accessible from the street and the outdoor seating; the self check-in and self check-out. Then the community aspects of it -- the meetings space and computer labs. Those things help us as a community leverage our resources beyond just the services of the library."

Thus far $351,000 has been raised of which about $55,000 in outstanding pledges remain, she said.

"The community has certainly stepped forward in a large way financially," she said. "There is a lot of expectation, a lot of anticipation, of seeing something happen."

Mrs. Williams thanked commissioners for allowing the Friends of Steele Memorial Library to use the building for its book sale during the last several North Carolina Pickle Festivals. It also has been used for the Pickle Festival art display.

"We are really glad to know, even though we are going to have to figure out another space for next year, we are hoping that this will be the last year that we will have that building available as is," she said. "That by the time we roll around for another that it will be, hopefully, nearing completion.

"There is a lot of excitement and anticipation about it and what it will do for our downtown. It is a huge boost to our downtown and an investment in Mount Olive. It just says volumes about the community and the county."

The library system is in the fifth year of its current strategic plan and that work would soon begin on a new one, Mrs. Phillips said.

"As we look forward to the next five years of what library services will be in our community, what the community demands of us, it is exciting that we can plan for these services, not just in Goldsboro, but also in the southern end our county,' she said. "And then for the future for our library in the northern end of the county, too. The long-range goal being that no matter where you live in Wayne County that you have library services."