Funding for the new Searcy Public Library will allow it to open “a whole new world” for the community, according to Jan Smith, a member of the board of directors of the White County Public Library Friends Foundation.

“I am passionate about the library ...,” Smith said. “We’ve had that little library over there for 55 years and have not been able to do the programs most modern libraries can do.

“We will be able to have speakers come in, authors come in. If we had an author ... we had an author come in, one that I can remember, and we all crowded in the little children’s area. We can have exhibitions come through, traveling exhibitions or World War II or dinosaurs – we will have change out; all of this, traveling exhibition, I see it and we just need to spread the word that this is a new ... I can go to a community center, an informational base, it’s a people’s university, we take everybody!”

The new library will be housed in the Searcy Athletic Club that was purchased last year by the White County Regional Library System and city of Searcy and $5.3 million will be sought to renovate the building.

New services the library is expected to provide include a teen library with dedicated program/media/game room, YouTube recording studio and study room. It also would include a program room for children’s programs, a small business and career center, a U.S. passport acceptance facility, an exhibition gallery, three study rooms on the first floor, three meeting rooms on the second floor, a coffee shop, an outdoor pavilion for patrons and coffee shop customers, drive-through windows and a White County Public Library Friends bookstore.

Expanded services would include more collection space for children, teens and adults, public computer space with more computers and wider workstations and more seating for children, teens and adults.

“Everybody can come in here,” Smith said. “Everybody is free, and these meeting rooms – we’ve never had meeting rooms before, study rooms – if your kids need to reserve a study room, that’s free; meeting rooms upstairs that you can reserve and have organization come. We already have one civic club that wants to make that their community meeting place. We have so much opportunity.”

She said “some success” is being had on finding major gift givers to contribute to the project and “the time will come when we will ask everyone in our community, large or small, to have a part in this because it is a community effort and we want everyone to have a chance to have a role in that, so that time is coming.”

White County Regional Library System Director added, “I am just so proud that it will be in my time that people will come in and say, ‘Is this a branch?’ and I will say, ‘No, this is the main library.’ Even the naysayers, I think once they see it all done, they’ll come in and they’re going to say, ‘I think I could do something here.’ We are going to have something for everyone and we’re just excited.”

Smith said grants also will be applied for “after we get 70 percent of funding.”

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