Library officials say expansion is needed

Marion, SC - By Kyle Grainger - bio | email

MARION, SC (WMBF) -  Officials with the Marion County Library say they have out grown their space in all their branches, now they're looking for ways to come up with millions of dollars to fund an expansion project.

The library's board of directors was hoping a 1% sales tax referendum would be put on the ballot in November for county residents to vote on funding the library expansion, however, that was shot down recently when the Marion County Sales Tax Commission. They voted to postpone the vote until 2012.

Library director, Salley Davidson says the library is out of space in all three branches, Nichols, Mullins, and at the main branch in Marion.  She says their plans to expand cost around $7 million.

"We're just out of space, we have to shelve on book trucks and it makes it really difficult to keep the collection maintained," she said. "In the mean time we'll keep doing what we've been doing all along, doing the best we can with what we have to work with, our goal, is to bring people into the library. That's a chance for them to get to know the staff, to know what kind of help they can receive when they come and what our resources are."

Davidson says many people are using the library's public computers these days as a way to get on the internet and look for jobs. Marion County's unemployment rate is one of the worst in the state, and she says the library is the only way these folks have been able to get access.

Ruth Fling lives in Marion wither her 4 children, and while they've used the library for school projects, she's now using the library to look for work.

"I'm able to maybe check my email, you know look up things, look up job listings, so this is a great asset to the community," said Fling.  "My kids got information they need for papers, for projects and stuff like that so if the library was expanded it would be a great asset to the community."

Library officials say the most promising project right now without the 1% tax is the expansion of the Nichols library. There they have a chance to partner with the city and the boys and girls club to share an old school building. Davidson says that would cost around $300,000 but still the library would need to raise the money through private donations.

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