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Ten Kentucky public libraries receive 20-year construction grants worth over $20 million

The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) has awarded 10 Public Library Facilities Construction Fund grants totaling $20 million over 20 years. Each library will receive an allotted dollar amount annually for the next 20 years to assist with debt retirement.

The total amount KDLA is distributing among the libraries per year is $1 million. Yearly allotments range from $18,200 to $207,390, depending on the size of each library’s grant. KDLA is an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Four of the libraries are building a new facility, with the remaining six libraries using the grant to expand and renovate.

Terry Manuel (Photo Provided)

The grant recipients are Clay County Public Library, Corbin Public Library, Grant County Public Library, Henry County Public Library, Louisville Free Public Library, LaRue County Public Library, Madison County Public Library, Marion County Public Library, William B. Harlan Memorial Library (Monroe County), and Russell County Public Library.

“Congratulations to the Public Library Facilities Construction Fund grant recipients that will be getting new, expanded and renovated public libraries,” said Terry Manuel, state Librarian and Commissioner of KDLA. “The number one need cited on each grant application was for additional space. We’re excited that a total of 95,773 square feet of space is being added by these 10 construction projects. The grants will make a tremendous difference for these communities.

“More space will allow for 21st century library demands. Larger facilities will have more room for updated technology, better wiring and faster connectivity. The funds will increase public computer stations, public meeting rooms, shelf space, accessible restrooms, elevators and public parking spaces,” he said.

Across Kentucky, library use continues to explode. The Statistical Report of Kentucky Public Libraries, Fiscal Year 2015-2016 reports that the number of people who entered a public library last year in Kentucky was 18,108,790. More and more libraries are falling behind in having adequate square footage to provide for the needs of the community. As library usage continues to grow rapidly, current space remains below the minimum square footage recommended in the Kentucky Public Library Standards document.

“In these times of limited funds, libraries have done their part to help alleviate the space crunch by extending their hours, adding robust community outreach programs, and significantly increasing their online programs and services. Yet many libraries are simply out of room,” Manuel said.

Grant recipient LaRue County Public Library is building a new 10,133-square-foot facility. Library Director Dana Jolly said, “Right now we have six computer stations for adults, six for children, and two laptops for teens to checkout and use in-house. Our new library will feature 16 adult computer stations, eight for children and four for teens in addition to laptops.”

One key area affected by the lack of room is meeting space. All 10 of the grant recipients are dramatically increasing meeting space. The demand is clear. The Statistical Report of Kentucky Public Libraries, Fiscal Year 2015-2016 reports that last year 25,677 unique groups held 88,070 meetings in public libraries.

Grant County will be adding 9,920 square feet to its current library with the funds. “Currently we have to turn away some requests for meeting space due to our meeting room’s small size or unavailability,” said Grant County Public Library Director Susan Nimersheim.

The grant recipients are adding flexible spaces, which will meet various purposes. Besides large community rooms and conference rooms, additional small meeting/study rooms and boardrooms will be available to the public.

“Our addition will house a large community room measuring 1,120 square feet providing space for large events such as plays, musical performances, Kentucky Humanities’ Chautauqua speakers, summer reading performers, etc.,” said Corbin Public Library Board of Trustees President Brenda Jones. “A soundproof room divider can be closed to create two single rooms.”

Kentucky libraries also find that they are in desperate need of additional programming space. According to the Statistical Report of Kentucky Public Libraries, Fiscal Year 2015-2016, 97,632 programs were held in public libraries last year with a total attendance of 2,442,452 children, teens and adults.

Many of the new libraries and additions will include a new form of programming space called maker spaces. A maker space is an area that enables a variety of experiential learning opportunities such as crafting, media production, cooking, and health-related activities.

“We hear at least once a day, ‘When am I getting my new library?” said Henry County Public Library Director Jessica Powell. “We can’t wait for our larger meeting room and expanded children’s room, as these flexible spaces will give us more room to present our programs. In recent years we have had to schedule two of every program because we just can’t accommodate the demand.”

Among the exciting features in included in the plans are expanded children’s rooms, new and expanded teen areas, local history/genealogy rooms, comfortable reading spaces, Internet Café’s, elevators, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restrooms, greatly increased parking spaces and outdoor reading areas.

The Public Library Facilities Construction Fund program, authorized by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2000, was designed to improve local library facilities around the state. Thirty-seven libraries in 36 Kentucky counties are currently utilizing funds from the program. Since 2000, KDLA has awarded a total of more than $44.5 million to 48 public libraries.

KDLA provides equitable access to quality library and information resources and services, as well as helps public agencies ensure that legislatively mandated documentation of government programs is created, efficiently maintained and made accessible. For more information on KDLA resources, programs and services visit www.kdla.ky.gov or call 502-564-1753.

From Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

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