New home of Independence County Library scheduled to open early June

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The renovation of the Barnett Building in downtown Batesville to become the home of the Independence County Library should be complete in April.

Bill Walmsley, chairman of the Independence County Library Board informed the other board members Monday that he and Vanessa Adams, library director, met with the architect and the construction manager last week. They were told the project is scheduled for completion next month.

The total cost of the renovation would be $3.15 million, which is within the anticipated cost, said Walmsley. The bids on furnishings were higher than expected, at $194,000, he noted and said Adams deleted some of the furniture items – about $18,000 worth – bringing the total for furnishings to $176,200, which is under budget.

An unexpected cost is the shelving on the first floor of the building. The board had hoped to use existing shelving in the current library. The shelving would have to be reduced in height from about seven foot high to about four feet high to allow an open sight line on the main floor.

It was determined that the existing shelves could not be safely modified. New shelving on the first floor is expected to cost $80,000.

Walmsley asked the board to approve the low bids on the furnishings. The motion was made, and it was approved with no dissent. He said the furniture should be delivered in eight weeks.

Board member David Thompson asked if any local vendors submitted low bids. Walmsley said two of them were.

Adams said the library at its current location would close during the entire month of May to allow the staff to pack the books and other materials for moving. She said the packing has to be done by the staff rather than volunteers.

Walmsley noted he is asking the Department of Correction to provide inmates to move the books and furnishings to the new location.  He said they would come from the Calico Rock and Newport units.

The plans are to reopen the new library in early June with a grand opening in early July.

Walmsley said the costs do not include equipment for the café, which will be leased to a vendor, finishing the rear patio area, and improving the rear parking lot. A new book drop box will be installed at the new library. It will cost about $5,000 and will be able to accept books and DVDs. Walmsley said he was “comfortable on financing” all of these items.

The new library will have 20 computers for patrons to use compared to eight now. It will offer 16 programs versus the five it has now.

The website for the Independence County Library can be found here

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