Someone once said, “Patience is a virtue.” Everyone who has been involved with the new addition to the library has definitely learned the meaning of that statement.

When the existing library building was completed in January 2001, the Library Friends of Payson raised money from donations to pay for materials inside the building, such as chairs, tables, computers and shelving. They invested the money that remained after these purchases in the stock market, and in the years since 2001, that money grew considerably. The Friends group decided the money should to be used for a building fund whenever the town determined the library needed to expand.

In April 2018, LFOP was notified that it had been chosen as a beneficiary of Arlene Kowalski’s estate. The gift was more than $100,000, with additional funds coming once all the estate’s properties were sold. This was exciting news, and the board and members of the LFOP were absolutely thrilled. The board put the donations received from the Kowalski estate in the building fund, adding to the funds that had been earning dividends and interest all along.

Then LFOP was approached with an idea … How about funding a library expansion — not for more books and shelves, but for a large meeting room that could hold up to 150-200 people at one time? In the spring of 2019, the LFOP board discussed the idea and agreed that this would be an excellent use of the funds they had been holding onto for almost 20 years.

The concept for the addition was to add on approximately 2,000 square feet to the existing meeting room, with the option of having a divider, instead of a fixed wall, which could be used between the existing meeting room and the new meeting room, thus offering more usage with the space.

Finally, in December 2019, groundbreaking took place and the project was on its way.

Not having a crystal ball, no one could foresee the looming pandemic that would bring the world to its knees in early 2020. Payson was not spared from the effects of the coronavirus, and work on the addition quickly came to a halt, or crept along at a snail’s pace. But work continued, and slowly each part of the project fell into place. By spring of this year, the final touches remained: the outside walkways and ramps were poured, the safety railings went up, and in late June the town did its last inspection. They gave the “thumbs up” and issued the long-awaited “Certificate of Occupancy.”

The existing meeting room is now divided (with a movable divider) into two spaces: one space can be used for smaller groups for meetings, and the second space is now designated as a game room, with several computer stations set up around the room. The third space is the new meeting room, which can hold up to 80 occupants. Groups who previously used the meeting room are once again holding their meetings at the library.

The Payson Public Library meeting rooms are available to local clubs, not-for-profit groups, businesses and government entities for meetings, workshops, and seminars. Nonprofit groups with 501(c)(3) paperwork or any government agency may use the meeting room free, so long as the meeting being held is open to the public.

For classes or seminars where fees are charged for attendance or for any business or for-profit group, there is a charge of $100 for up to 4 hours of meeting room use and $25 for each additional hour. Nonprofit groups must attach a copy of their 501(c)(3) form to a copy of our policy when it is submitted. The meeting room may not be used for private parties or events. The library reserves the right to refuse usage for any meeting that would be incompatible with the environment maintained at the library or the use thereof by its patrons for library purposes.

The Library Friends of Payson is appreciative to those who contributed their financial donations over the years, and in particular to the estate of Arlene Kowalski. This addition to the Payson library, which was paid for entirely by the Library Friends of Payson, will stand as a long-lasting monument to the importance of our local library in our community.

If you are interested in donating to Library Friends of Payson to help support the library with the purchase of books, movies, e-books, library programs, etc., you can simply mail a check to Library Friends of Payson, P.O. Box 13, Payson, AZ 85547. Financial donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in becoming part of Library Friends of Payson, more information is available on our website at www.libraryfriendsofpayson.org.

Library Friends of Payson is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the Payson Public Library with programs and materials not covered by the town budget.

For more information about LFOP activities, check out the Library Friends of Payson Facebook page at www.facebook.com/libraryfriendspayson.

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