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Library project continues to move forward

By Staff | May 6, 2011

CHARLES TOWN As part of the ongoing process to bring a new public library to Shepherdstown, Hali Taylor came to the Jefferson County Commission meeting Thursday afternoon to ask for input on the project.

Taylor, the Shepherdstown Public Library’s director, was accompanied to the meeting by Richard Bowra, a library consultant from Harrisburg, Pa., and Jessica Marshall with Alexander Design Studio, based in Ellicott City, Md.

The current library, housed at 100 E. German St., has been at its current location for more than 84 years. It’s is unable to meet all the needs of a growing library, Taylor told the commission.

“We’ve outgrown our wonderful home … and it’s time to imagine a new concept for our community and for our library,” she said. “We’ve been searching for a solution for our size problem for over 15 years.”

Commissioner Walt Pellish commended Taylor for seeking as much public input as possible on the project, and Commissioner Frances Morgan said she was pleased that, among other aspects of the project, a brownfield will be converted into usable land.

“I just can’t believe I’m saying this, it should be a modern-looking building,” Morgan said. “Shepherdstown is so pretty and quaint with all the historic buildings. (But) since you’re in a separate area of town … you’d be free to design what would be the most useful space.”

Commissioner Dale Manuel jokingly asked if a template for designing the new library would be the Center for Contemporary Arts – a post-modern structure at Shepherd University.

Trying to encourage area residents to use the library was another topic of concern brought up during the discussion.

“I think that is probably one of the most important things, that you would reach out to the citizens of Shepherdstown and see what they’re looking for,” Commissioner Patsy Noland said.

Following the meeting, Taylor said many of the topics the commission brought up echoed issues brought up during previous discussions concerning the library.

“It’s very important in a process like this to be inclusive with the community, and that’s part of what we’re doing here, so that when we start putting the ideas on paper and getting a building design, it’s reflective of what people need,” Bowra said. “Not what we think they need.”

Anyone interested in giving input on the library project can take part in an online survey by going to survey.thelibraryproject.org. It will be available until May 9.

“If people would like to add any kind of input, we would appreciate hearing it,” Taylor said. “We would also appreciate hearing from people who do not use the library and we would like to know the reasons why they don’t and if there’s anything we could do to facilitate their use of the library.”