Here's a definition of progress that everybody can agree on, courtesy of Library Friends President Judy Buettner.
In 1921, she recounts, Payson's 36-member Womans Club wanted a library for the town's fast-growing population of 150. So they convinced the local Presbyterian church to let them use two shelves to hold all the books they collected.
A number of years later, the Payson Library's literary collection outgrew those shelves, so it was moved to the schoolhouse. There, they were given an entire cupboard.
The Womans Club had always wanted its own building, of course. But because of the stock market crash of 1929 and WWII and other assorted national disasters, that didn't happen until 1951, when the Womans Club bought the current library building on Main Street. This brand-new, state-of-the-rural-art library (with the Dewey decimal system and everything) occupied a full 12 square feet of the front annex, between a bakery and a defunct bootlegging operation.
Over the years, the space was expanded four times, with the final growth spurt in 1983 bringing the library to its current 8,000-some-odd square feet.
In 1986, the Payson Library Friends was formed to raise funds for a new literary center, which three times over the next 15 years came close but no cigar to becoming a reality.
Flash forward to the present past shifts in money-raising responsibilities, a failed 1997 bond issue, and more dashed-and-revived hopes than you'd find in a season's worth of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" episodes.
The brand-new, truly state-of-the-art (with fully computerized Dewey decimal system and everything) Payson Public Library is now very close to becoming a reality. So close, in fact, that it was the town's number one priority until mid-February, when a town council priority shuffle relegated the new library to second place after water development.
With a decidedly unrural design by Valley architect Larry Enyart and a preselected Rumsey Park building site, this 15,765-square-foot building is budgeted at $2,154,000. That figure includes a 10 percent contingency for construction change orders.
According to Payson Library Director Terry Morris, the construction timeline for the library, which is now halfway through the construction documents phase, will go something like this:
Fifteen days of partial construction documents review, after which the plans will go back to the architect.
Sixty days of alterations and corrections by the architect.
The building department's process of review, which usually takes about 45 days, after which all deficiencies are corrected.
The project will then go to bid, and contractors will be given six to eight weeks to review the plans and estimate their material needs.
Once the bid is awarded, Morris said, "The shovels hit the dirt."
And progress progresses on.
Library fun facts
Number of items checked out in fiscal year 1999: 98,668
Current number of new library cards issued per month: 150
Current total of active library cards: 5,768
National average of population use of local library: 3 percent
Payson's population use of local library: 44 percent