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story.lead_photo.caption Qyxiaan Elliott of Fayetteville studies Monday at the Springdale Public Library. The Springdale City Council on Monday unanimously supported spending a maximum of $175,175 for the first phase of improvements. The investment, which would come from the city’s capital improvement fund, will go to the council for approval in its March 13 meeting. - Photo by J.T. Wampler

The Springdale Public Library saw 60,000 people who come through its doors last year.

It's time to update those doors and more to better serve the patrons, said Marcia Ransom, library director. They are 20 years old and about worn out.

In other business

• The Springdale City Council Committee passed on to the council a resolution to provide $9,718 for the first phase of stabilizing the buildings at the Fitzgerald farmstead, which served as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route in 1857 to 1861. The money can be matched on a 2:1 ratio with historic preservation grants, reported Allyn Lord, director of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. The property is owned by NWA Trailblazers, who plan to build a trailhead and parking lot for a mountain bike trail being developed to the east on Fitzgerald Mountain and then donate the rest to the city.

• The council approved the purchase of a cargo van for the Springdale Animal Shelter. The 2018 Ram 1500 cargo van will cost $24,941.00 under the state contract with McLarty Daniel Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. This van will be purchased with funds bequeathed to the animal shelter by the M. Pauline Smith Trust.

• The council heard a proposal from Tonya Martin of Hog Wild Pyrotechnics to allow for postponement dates of professional fireworks presentations if they must be canceled because of weather. The city and state require all pyrotechnics companies to acquire permits stating the dates of the shows. The state allows rescheduling within seven days, but the city does not provide for alternative dates. Council members proposed these alternative dates be limited to weekends. The council postponed action until the next council committee meeting March 27 to allow time to talk to residents.

The Springdale City Council on Monday night unanimously supported spending a maximum of $175,175 for the first phase of improvements. The investment, which would come from the city's capital improvement fund, will go to the council for approval in its March 13 meeting.

Ransom said she hopes to complete the projects this spring with the work of staff members and without disruption to library services. The updates include installing LED lighting, replacing sealants around windows and doors, replacing nonworking drinking fountains, upgrading the camera surveillance system and updating a third of the library's outdated computers.

But the big item would be a replacement of the radio frequency identification program, which keeps track of returned items and sorts books and other items for staff to return to the shelves. The library loaned 735,412 items from its circulation in 2017. The new system would cost $100,000.

"It's antiquated, outdated machinery," Ransom said. "We can no longer get any kind of work on it."

The library in Murphy Park was expanded to its current 43,800 square feet in a construction project in 1999-2000. Many smaller improvements since that time have been funded by the library's foundation, Ransom said.

Ransom introduced to council members a long-term plan for library updates that was started in 2015 with the help of Godfrey's Associates, library consultants in Dallas. The total plan carries an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

Ransom hopes phase two of the plan could start in August, and pointed out that it might require closing the library for a short period. Those improvements would include enclosing the exterior courtyard for programming space, installing a fire suppression system for the room holding the computer server, replacing those doors, reworking study carrels into small rooms for public meeting space and the computer lab into staff office space, renovating the bathrooms and replacing the carpet throughout the library. The council will consider these projects at a later date.

Other long-range plans include a new digital sign in front of the library, replacing the phone system, adding new seating and ultimately replacing the roof and air-conditioning and heating systems.

Ransom said items like the roof and the carpet were designed to last 20 years, and they have.

The current industry standards for libraries call for about 1 square foot of space per person in the city. With the city's population near 80,000, the Springdale library has about half that space, Ransom said.

Enclosing the courtyard would add 2,588 square feet and a place for children's programming, but the consultant also suggested opening branches. The first would be downtown. Looking down the road 30 years, branches could be opened on the east and west sides of the city to serve those communities, Ransom shared the consultant's suggestion.

Ransom proposed to the council that a building currently owned by the city could house the downtown branch, which would offer a public meeting room, a demonstration room, areas for downloads onto personal devices and some print and audio-visual materials. The city offices currently in the buildings will move to the city's Criminal Justice and Administration Building when it is completed in about three years.

NW News on 03/06/2018

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