Library Makes Progress Toward Expansion

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Making concrete plans for the future was the biggest news at the Payson Public Library in 2005.

"We started looking into a building project seriously," said Library Director Terry Morris.

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Architect Lawrence Enyart of Scottsdale designed the current library and is responsible for the plan for the facility's expansion. The addition will add another 5,480 square feet.

The library in Rumsey Park opened for business Jan. 14, 2002. The $1.745-million, 15,765-square-foot building has run out of space, Morris said.

"In spite of weeding (the collection), we have no room to grow," she said.

Lawrence Enyart, who designed the current facility, and the firm of LEA -- Architects of Phoenix -- was hired to create the plans.

The addition to the library will be approximately 5,480 square feet, and will cost an estimated $1.357 million to build. Morris said she hopes construction on the expansion can start in 2007.

She said the addition will house the library's community computers, providing space for seven more units. The nonfiction collection will be moved into the space and there will be more reading tables and chairs, plus a double-sided fireplace.

"It will be a working (gas) unit, but it's a structural (support) element, not an extra," Morris said.

Moving the computer and nonfiction areas will allow the library to expand the study space and grow its collection.

It took Payson 30 years to get its first real library. A group of 32 women formed the Payson Womans Club in 1921, intent upon bringing a library to the community. Money was raised and saved, and then lost when a bank went under. With the advent of World War II, efforts of volunteers were needed elsewhere, so it was not until Nov. 17, 1951 that a formal library opened its doors at the Womans Club.

Then in the mid-1980s the move began to build a new library. It took the community 15 years to raise the money to create the facility that now serves not only Payson, but the surrounding Rim Country.

Another point of progress in 2005, according to Morris -- the new library was finally fully staffed. The facility, open six days a week, has a staff of nine, including Morris and Assistant Director and Children's Librarian Margaret Jesus.

During 2005 several different grants were sought by the staff. Two of these will provide two new services in 2006, Morris said.

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This is an early sketch for the library expansion made by architect Lawrence Enyart.

"We received a grant to develop a Hispanic language brochure to provide resource contacts (for the library's Spanish-speaking clients). It should be finished by August," she said. It will include information on learning English, citizenship and the bilingual books and other materials available at the library. Additionally the grant is providing funds for the library staff to learn Spanish, to assist the Hispanic community.

A program to show young parents the importance of reading to their babies and young children is being funded by another grant. It will provide for at least two workshops on the subject, Morris said.

In other special outreach programs, the library staff proctors the Food Handlers' test for the Gila County Health Department and tests for Rio Salado Community College.

The staff is assisted in its efforts by the volunteer group, Friends of the Library. The group has about 200 members, Morris said, and will be presenting fund-raising events to help raise the money for the expansion. The group runs the used book store in the library as one of its fund-raising ventures.

The Friends of the Library went into partnership with the courts in 2005 in a program called "Read Your Way Off Probation," Morris said. The volunteers are paired up with teens and help them study for their General Education Degree.

"The ultimate goal is to help the young people get their GEDs and give them a sense of purpose," Morris said.

The library saw a marked increase in the use of its computer stations. "It's unbelievable," Morris said. "Sometimes there is a 30 to 45 minute wait for computers."

An expansion of circulation services was completed in 2005. The library's data base (the list of its materials) was made available to clients with home computers. The staff assigns a password to a library card holder and the client can then check to see if a book, magazine or other item is available in the collection. A hold can be placed and then they can go to the library and check out their selection.

Home improvement and cookbooks were among the most popular items leaving the library in 2005, Morris said. She attributes the interest to the numerous television programs now on the air.

"I think it's because people are experimenting more and are interested in trends," Morris said.

To further meet the needs of library patrons, an additional 25 magazine titles have been purchased.

"We try to be very sensitive to the dynamics and changes in the community," Morris said. "We make use of a customer service survey, which I pay close attention to."

To learn more about the Payson Public Library, stop by 328 N. McLane Road (Rumsey Park), or call (928) 474-9260.

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