Plans for the relocation and expansion of the Shepherdstown Public Library are entering the homestretch, but opportunities are still available to contribute to the fundraising effort.
As of April 2017, $2.35 million has been raised toward the construction effort. That milestone marked the end of the silent phase of the fundraising initiative, said Lee Ann Warner, director of library development. Since the launch of the live phase of the fundraising drive, an additional $133,000 has been brought in. The combined total accounts for 84 percent of the total amount needed for the construction costs.
“Community support has been phenomenal,” Warner said.
Currently located in the Old Market House on German Street in downtown Shepherdstown, the new Library location will be housed on four acres of land near the Clarion Hotel, just outside of downtown. While patrons are accustomed to the present location, it has proven to be too small.
“The current space can no longer provide the services the community expects and deserves,” said Warner. “The second floor is not ADA accessible, and is too small to accommodate our children’s programs during the summer.
“As a public library supported by taxes, it is our responsibility to provide services to a third of the county population—a mission that has been impossible to fulfill in our current building. The new library and resource center will offer the community a safe and spacious facility in which to meet, study, access the Internet, and participate in a wide variety of learning opportunities.”
Aside from simply more space, the new facility is planned to offer a large children’s area, more computer workstations, and a common room, which will offer a meeting area for community organizations both during and after regular library hours.
Warner also highlighted the accessibility of the new site. “The walking path currently planned will provide easy access for walkers and bikers. There will [also be] ample parking for our patrons who drive.”
The Library plans to continue use of the Market House and will house its local history and genealogy materials there, after necessary ADA-compliance issues are addressed.
Originally opened in 1922 by the Shepherdstown Woman’s Club, the Library has strived to meet the needs of the community in the space allotted. It first operated only on the first floor, but eventually expanded to the second. Beginning in the mid-1990s, plans to expand were explored. 2008 saw the offer of the old municipal dump as a new location. After the site was remediated and certified as a safe property by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in April of 2015, plans to break ground once sufficient money has been raised were prepared.
Those interested in contributing to the cause can visit the Library’s website and click on “make a gift.”By H.S. Leigh Koonce