Opelika’s City Council has approved an almost $12 million budget for a new city library.
While the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library sits on South Sixth Street, the new location will be on Glenn Street. The new library will have more individual study rooms, two group study rooms that will be able to hold 10 people, and two meeting rooms that will hold 30-40 people.
“We’re excited about the increased meeting space that will be available to people as well as how that will help us continue to build partnerships with other agencies,” said Rosana McGinnis, library director. “This community has so many resources to offer that it’s hard to know about everything, and we really feel like the new building is going to position us to be an even better community hub and help people connect with the services that they need and want.”
The new library will also have an auditorium that will be able to seat 250 people.It will have an expanded computer lab, and there will be family computer lab for small children to use.
McGinnis also said in-library Chromebook circulation will be expanded so patrons won’t feel confined to the computer labs for digital access.
“We have great patrons now, we have strong supporters, but there are just over 30,000 people in the community, and I would like all 30,000 to be library users,” she said. “Right now we have a little over a third of that. And I want to create a space that is for everyone to use and I hope this new building will help us do that.”
O Grows uses the Glenn Street space for its weekly farmers market on Tuesday afternoons. Part of the plan for the new library is to build an outdoor pavilion that patrons will be able to reserve and O Grows could use for its farmers market.
“We’ve talked with Sean Forbes of O Grows, and they’re excited about it, and we talked about the pavilion,” McGinnis said. “We know we’re building on a location that they currently use, so we didn’t want to basically kick them off.”
It’s estimated that the library will take a year to complete once construction begins. The current building will be empty, with plans for the city to sell it.
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