elkintribune.com

Future uncertain for Jonesville Library

Taylor PardueStaff Reporter

April 16, 2013

The Jonesville Library and the Jonesville Town Council have tough questions ahead regarding the future of the town’s public library.


Efforts to raise enough money for a new or renovated building have fallen short, leaving some to wonder if a library will remain in the town’s future.


Jonesville librarian Cynthia Allred spoke to the Town Council April 8 about the challenges facing the library. She informed the commissioners that, despite the best efforts of the Friends of the Jonesville Library group to raise money for proposed renovations, the library was only able to raise $5,000 to $6,000 dollars each year toward the necessary $300,000.


In total, the library has raised about $25,000.


Jonesville commissioners are still working on the budget. Town Manager Scott Buffkin presented a budget last week. He has referred to this budget as the “toughest” one he’s worked on since he’s been in Jonesville.


The town purchased the Custom Heating and Cooling building across from the current library building on Main St. in 2005 and donated it to the library to use.


The library has been raising money to remodel the building and make it usable for its needs, but economic variables have caused them to consider building a new building instead.


Allred was unsure of the current cost of building supplies in 2013 but expects the annual donations the library had received will only pay for the rise of building material costs, leaving the actual building to still be paid for.


An estimate from Zenith Builders, Inc. on January 6, 2010 to Allred listed the needed funds at $301,536, including the construction of a new sloped roof and the interior furnishings the library would require.


The existing library has extensive damage and problems facing it even if the staff and materials stay in it. Even before entering the building patrons are welcomed by a peeling and cracked sign that reads “Jonesville Public Library.”


The carpet is beginning to unravel and leave stretches of bare fabric where the segments are pulling apart. Light fixtures are frequently going out, causing electricians to visit every two to three months for repairs and replacements.


The roof leaks and causes discolored tiles on the ceiling, both in the office and in the children’s’ room. The leak has dripped down the wall and mildewed the walls in the children’s section, causing Allred to cover the damage in paper to continue the illusion of a brightly-colored room.


Up above, caulking has been coated over the crack between the two roofs, one of which is several feet higher than the other part. Allred said crews come by roughly every six months to try something different to stop the leaking.


The exterior doors and window panes are in disrepair. Allred fears mice and snakes will be able to enter via the back door, where the paint and wood of the door are faded and peeling away. Leaking is also occurring under the outer door to the children’s’ room, leaving a stained appearance to the carpet.


Allred said steps have been taken to reinforce all the doors and windows to prevent thieves from entering. The reinforcements were taken following a string of burglaries in which a small amount of cash was taken.


Allred said that the real injury came from the damage the intruders did to the building and its doors.


Damage caused by a piece of equipment is clearly shown by the large cracks in the building’s front left corner. Allred said a front-end loader caught the edge of the building, causing the whole building to shudder.


Even if the repairs were made, the issue of cramped and overcrowded space would remain. The library has to discard old books to make room for new books as they come in and have no room to install new computers.


The Jonesville Library was originally housed next door to the current location. A room under the police department in the old town hall building was used until 1983 when the current building became available.


The current building was built in the 1950s and renovated in 1983 when the library moved, but little has been done to improve the structure since then.


Commissioner Danny Lewis proposed a solution to some of those problems at a budget workshop April 12. Lewis suggested the town sell both the former town hall and the heating and cooling building to fund the purchase of a brand new building behind the current library.


In addition, the current library would be knocked down and made into parking spots for the newly constructed building. The already raised $25,000 would be put toward the purchase.


If the current library was sold, significant repairs would be needed to make it marketable. Even renting the building would require additional money to be spent, causing Lewis and Allred to question if building a new structure would not be a smarter economic option.


The current trend of raising a metal building in place of a more traditional frame is being considered by those involved in the planning process. Costs would be kept lower while a decorative front could be built onto the metal frame.


The Friends of the Jonesville Library has been campaigning for a new library since October 2005.


Allred said volunteers worked hard for a period of time but then get disillusioned by the lack of progress. She believes attendance will pick back up when and if the club begins taking action toward the building’s construction or renovation.


According to Allred, the town is in even more need of a library now as ever. When asked about relocating to property on Highway 67, Allred said the move would be a mistake.


Many locals walk to the library to get help and computer access when applying for jobs, as most applications are online now. Residents would not be able to walk across town when they already walk some distance to the current building.


Jonesville’s library is a strong performer in the Northwestern Regional Library system, according to Allred. She said the library, despite its age and small size, compares well with Elkin and Yadkin County’s public libraries.


Jonesville has a total population of about 2,400. Jonesville’s library had 2,986 total registered users, according to a report on the 2011-2012 fiscal year provided by Allred to the town commissioners.


The number of people who entered the library during that time period was 47,892.


Jonesville’s total circulation was 51,275 for that period, with 10,666 computer sessions on 6 computers. The computer usage ratio equates to around 1,778 sessions per computer.


In comparison, Yadkin County Public Library had a total of 57,806, with 16,758 computer sessions across 16 adult computers. The Yadkin County ratio totals roughly 1,047 sessions per computer.


Boonville’s library had a circulation of 20,707, with 5,395 sessions on eight computers. Its ratio of computer usage was roughly 674 sessions per computer.


East Bend had a circulation of 20,636, with 4,437 sessions across 13 computers. The ratio amounted to roughly 341 sessions per computer.


Allred told the town council the increase in electronic books would of course change the way the library operates but would not make it obsolete. With the increase in electronic media Allred expects the library will one day be more of a computer room with librarians still offering help to those who need it.


However, Allred said that transition is likely 15 to 25 years away, and in the mean time something has to be done to better house the library.


To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.