Library "dream" is at times a nightmare

Library Dream at times is a nightmare 2-4-79.jpg

Title

Library "dream" is at times a nightmare

Subject

Tuscaloosa Public Library
Public libraries

Description

An account of the construction of the Tuscaloosa Public Library on River Road (now Jack Warner Parkway).

Creator

Doris Flora, News Staff Writer

Source

Tuscaloosa News Archive

Publisher

Tuscaloosa News

Date

February 4, 1979

Contributor

Tuscaloosa Public Library

Type

Newspaper

Identifier

2003

Coverage

Tuscaloosa (AL)

Text

"A dream come true" is certainly a cliché, but the words of that phrase are repeated nevertheless by the staff members of the Friedman Library as they describe the library building nearing completion on River Road.

Taken on their first tour of the two-story building, located adjacent to Queen City Park, library staff members couldn't help but contrast the new library building with the ante-bellum home on Greensboro Avenue where the library is now located.

Gone are the cramped, multi-flight stacks crowded into the historic three-story home. Gone is the bathroom which was converted into a storage area for some of the library materials.

Gone is the old Bookmobile which was parked adjacent to the Friedman Home and converted into the facility serving the blind and physically handicapped.

Scaffolding may still surround the stairwell leading to the second floor stacks and work area, and the carpet may still be in giant rolls rather than spread on the floor of the new building but library staff members can already see what it's going to be like to have the space and facilities to work with, to have an area designed specifically for a children's reading room and to have a facility that is barrier-free for the physically handicapped.

The dream, which at times has been more of a nightmare, is ahead of construction schedule as Bryce Building Co. continues work. But that doesn't mean the facility will be in use that much sooner.

Even though the $2-million-plus building could be completed as early as March 15, it is unlikely that the new facility will be opened before early July.

Tom Shumaker, president of the library board and for more than 10 years the leader of the drive for a new building, has mentioned July 4 as an appropriate opening date because the building was one of Tuscaloosa County's Bicentennial projects.

The hold-up on the opening of the new library is just one of a number of problems which have plagued library supporters seeking a new building.

The first major problem was a lack of funds for a new building; a special referendum overwhelmingly approved by the voters provide for up to $2 million in bonds to be sold to cover the cost.

Then came problems over the location, with several of the county commissioners opposing the location on River Road, donated by the Tuscaloosa City Commission.

Once the location was chosen and bids awarded for construction of the building, structural foundation problems were discovered, forcing the need for an additional $75,000 in building costs.

Construction continued, but when it came time to award a contract on the furnishings for the library, county commissioners refused to sign the contract, citing financial problems.

Even though the contract should have been awarded in October for the custom-built library furniture to be ready by the time the building is complete, problems over the contract were not resolved for months and a contract wasn't signed until December.

Mrs. Bessie Sasser, Friedman librarian, explained that because approximately half of the furnishings for the new library are custom-built library furniture, the opening will be further delayed.

She said she expects the card catalogues, library tables, dictionary stands, index stands, library desks and chairs to be ready during the first two weeks of June.

And once the basic furnishings arrive, then will come the mammoth process of moving the film strips, phonograph records, magazines, 120,000 volumes and other items.

Citing the magnitude of the move, Mrs. Sasser said she met with representatives of the Friends of the Library this week to plan ahead.

In the meantime, the library board is trying to resolve another problem - in order to secure a contract on the furniture for the new building, the library board members had to take on the cost of the furniture.

Still to be raised by library board members is an estimated $70,000 cost of the furniture. And operational costs are still questionable, once the new facility is open.

Shumaker, however, says he is confident that the community is so strongly behind the new library that funds for the remainder of the furniture and additional operational expenses will be forthcoming.

Original Format

Newspaper

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