To renovate or rebuild: City leaders take a look at Chapin Memorial Library

To renovate or rebuild: City leaders take a look at Chapin Memorial Library

. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -  Chapin Memorial Library has seen a few renovations since it was built in 1949, with the last of those
in 1998.

A lot has changed since then, and now the city of Myrtle Beach is looking at possibly renovating or rebuilding the library.

Since the building is older and maintenance costs are high, city officials are looking into whether renovating the space or finding a new one is the more cost effective of the two options.

Older buildings tend to have problems, and library officials said there's a leaky ceiling and outdated ceilings and floors.

Chapin Memorial is the center of the community, used frequently by tourists and locals who need to find information or just a good book. And the way it is right now, the space is in need of updating.

"Libraries aren't just about books anymore," said Deb Warrington, the customer service supervisor. "They're about computers, access, community. We hope to bring the community here. This should be the center of the community."

Library officials are hopeful that, within the next few years, they'll be able to provide a lot more to the community, like meeting rooms and a computer lab to educate people on how to properly use them, as well as search for jobs and write resumes.

"Technology has changed a lot," Warrington said. "So with technology changes, older buildings tend to have problems. Electrical, roofing, you know, we're an old building and old buildings just need a lot of help."

"I understand the roof is leaking, and we now have a security guard here," said John Hobson, who is on the library's board of directors. "The
nearness to the park next door has caused some people to come in who are not really using the library, they're abusing it."

After coming for years, Hobson joined the library's board two months ago.

"I've heard discussions about closing it, switching it to the county, moving it to another site and I just wanted to be part of the discussions," he said.

Hobson described the library as more of a community center than a library, because of how many people rely on its services.

The city planning commission recently received a cost assessment of $6.5 million to acquire new property and build a new library. Warrington said she would rather see the library stay where it is and undergo renovation.

"It's been an integral part of Myrtle Beach," she said.

Warrington is working with city employees to determine exactly what the library's needs are.

Those will go before city council who will ultimately decide if and when to renovate or rebuild. Warrington expects any changes will be made several years down the road.

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