Sitting in the children’s section of the new Mildred Terry library on Veterans Parkway, Trevon Jones described the new building in one word — big.
“It looks big,” said the sixth-grader from Fort Middle School. “It’s not really what I expected. I thought it would be smaller.”
Many patrons and staff members at the library when it opened Tuesday agreed with Trevon, commenting on the building’s open and well-lit atmosphere. At 16,500 square feet, it’s about 4 times the size of the old library building next door.
“It’s like moving from night to day. It’s bigger, more spacious, lighter...I’m going to lose about 5 pounds walking back and forth, ” assistant librarian Ann Washington said, laughing.
Yvonne Walton, who brought her granddaughter Tristian Patterson to the new library, agreed. “It’s awesome, beautiful, fantastic. It’s a bigger treasure. It’s going to fulfill the dreams of lots of people.”
The new library has 50 new computers, a space for young adults, meeting rooms, tutoring rooms, a quiet reading area and a pantry. The $4.7 million facility has been under construction for about a year and was funded by private donations and money from the Muscogee County School District’s 2003 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The old Mildred Terry library closed on May 13 to allow the staff time to move. The branch’s librarian Silvia Bunn welcomed long-time patrons to the new library on Tuesday with smiles and hugs.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Bunn of the opening. “People have obviously missed the library.”
The building has mostly new furnishings, but there are a few reminders of the branch’s history. The slanted desks in the children’s area came from the old library and all of the old card catalogs were moved over to one of the building’s new meeting rooms. Later in the summer, a reading garden will be planted where the old library building sits, with the historical marker remaining outside.
“It will be a space to hallow the old,” Bunn said.
Anna Adams Mims remembers when the branch opened in 1953. Then, it was called the Colored/Fourth Avenue library and was the first public library for blacks in Columbus. It was one of the few places blacks could congregate, Mims said, and the building was often used for parties and social gatherings, as well as reading and studying.
“For the black community, this was our activity,” Mims said. “Other than church, it was the only place we could come.”
The library was later renamed after its first librarian, Mildred L. Terry. Alberta Griffin Shipman worked with Terry as an assistant librarian from 1956-1973, and said she was impressed with the new surroundings.
“I think Ms. Terry’s dreams would have been realized in this building’s progress,” Shipman said.
For Bunn, the new building was also a dream realized.
“It’s a dream fulfilled. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “I can only imagine what it was like in 1953 when the library first opened. They must have had the same joy and expectations.”