Library Begins New Chapter

Town breaks ground on modern library building at Rumsey Park

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"Dreams do come true," Library Friends President Judy Buettner told an overflow crowd of at least 150 at the groundbreaking for the town's new public library Thursday.

It seemed fitting that the sun shone brightly on a day forecasters predicted would end in snow. Each time the library project was about to be buried under an avalanche of adversity, somebody came to the rescue with a timely donation, a little extra legwork, or a helpful legislative assist.

As attendees packed a large tent set up for the occasion and spilled out onto the grass at the new library's Rumsey Park site, Buettner and Library Director Terry Morris recounted the highs and lows and recognized the contributions of many in a 15-year struggle to raise the money to build the 15,765-square-foot building.

But Buettner and Morris were mostly looking ahead to the day, tentatively set for September, when general contractor Amon Builders turns the completed $1.745-million building over to the people of Payson.

Buettner, who was immediately pressed into service raising funds for the library when she moved to the Rim country from Minnesota in 1997, envisions a building that has been designed so well that it hardly requires more people to operate than the old library on Main Street.

"Both Terry and I were on the design committee, and none of us liked the first thing we came up with. But we started over and stayed with it, and now we have a great design," Buettner said. "It's a very basic building, but it fits our community."

The exterior will feature stone work reminiscent of some of Payson's early architecture, and will feature casual seating areas where patrons can sit and read or just relax and enjoy the day.

Inside, a large, round circulation desk will be illuminated by the sun shining through overhead skylights shaped like mountains.

"The skylights form four peaks, and the light will shine right through onto the desk," Buettner said.

The new library, which is about one-third larger than the current facility, will feature separate reading areas for children, teens and seniors.

"In the kids area, we'll also be able to do puppet theater and story hours," Morris said.

In fact, Morris plans to be able to offer a lot of services and functions that most modern libraries have.

"We were just so crammed in the old place," she said. "For one thing, we'll have more computers so people can access the Internet. We'll also have a meeting room that's a decent size."

The new library will offer whatever people want and need, as long as it's affordable, Morris said.

"We will offer a young adult readers' roundtable for teens if there is a demand," she said. "We will also work diligently with all the teachers in the area at all levels to get the materials they want and their students need to do assignments."

Morris said she is also talking to the community's various art leagues to arrange art displays for the new building.

Yet another feature will be an on-premises used bookstore that will be operated by the Library Friends. "We have a small store in the current library," Buettner said. "But now we'll have a separate store."

Morris sees the bookstore expanding its product line to include library and town logo items, including coffee mugs, T-shirts and bookmarks. "People will also be able to order books there," she said.

Because the new library, which is funded by the town with some help from Gila County, will continue to need support, the Library Friends has no plans to disband.

"Our new book budget is just $15,000 a year," Morris said, "not a lot considering all the areas we have to address."

But that's a problem for another day. With the ceremony over and the gold-painted shovels set aside, Buettner, Morris and friends and supporters descended upon the tent to congratulate one another for proving that dreams do come true.

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