Wish list presented for remaining money in Columbus Public Library project

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 23, 2014 

Fifteen years after Muscogee County residents voted for the sales tax to fund construction of a new main library, the $279,000 left in the $50.4 million project has a wish list for how to spend it.

The 102,000-square-foot Columbus Public Library opened on Macon Road nine years ago, but the joint project between the Columbus Consolidated Government and Muscogee County School Board, which owns and operates the county's public libraries, hasn't been closed out.

The school board created the Muscogee County Library Board in 2001 as a semi-autonomous governing authority. The library board has been working with city officials to determine the amount remaining in the project.

Thursday, during the library board's monthly meeting, chairwoman Meridith Jarrell announced approximately $279,000 still is available. The money must be used to "build and equip" the new main library, Jarrell reminded the board, to stay in accordance with the language of the 1999 referendum that approved the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

To that end, library director Alan Harkness presented his staff's wish list, which the board's facilities committee will finalize into a proposal in February or March, he said. Here is the wish list, which isn't arranged in any priority order, Harkness said:

• $10,000: lettering "Columbus Public Library" on the front of the building.

• $6,000: monument sign similar to the existing one on Macon Road to clarify parking off of Citizens Way, on the west side of the library.

• $75,000: electronic sign on Macon Road, either adding to the existing monument sign or as a new sign on the corner of Macon and Boxwood.

• $48,000: new security gates as part of a replacement self-checkout system.

• $54,000: Inventory units, money handlers and administrative units as part of a new self-checkout system.

• $29,000: additional HVAC unit for the circulation and entrance area.

• $4,000: additional audio-visual equipment.

• Remaining amount would be spent on books and other materials.

Two other items are on the wish list, but Harkness said they probably won't make it into the final proposal:

• $25,000: iPad dispensing machine.

• An undetermined amount to renovate the 1-4 alcoves in the Grand Reading Room to make more study rooms. Board members suggested such a renovation could attract donations as naming opportunities.

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