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What exactly is the truth about the library?

By Staff | May 16, 2014

I had an interesting/revealing telephone conversation this past weekend. The person is a FOSL member, and moved to the Shepherdstown area within the last five years.

That time frame is important because this newcomer has heard either misinformation or a distortion of the library’s efforts to expand.

The newcomer sounded quite angry – with the town, because, since the town wouldn’t, or couldn’t, give money to the library to build the addition it wanted, the library now has to move out of town.

Well, I recall there were legitimate concerns from experts, and many other knowledgeable people about the addition,( one being that the lower level books would be close to Town Run/water damage possibility) so I don’t really think it was just the town’s fault that the addition didn’t come about.

Since the library’s efforts to expand or move has been going on at last since the 1980s, it might be helpful to recap the possibilites, for these newcomers.

There have been six locations offered to the library board, that I know of.

The old town firehall, on the corner of King and New Streets was the first…..it became available after the new firehall was built.

The Men’s Club(now the SCC) offered their ground floor room…

The train station, was favored by many, but turned down……

A three story addition on the west side of the Entler Museum complex was suggested; it was a great idea that didn’t get a lot of attention….and there was a brief possibility of town hall, and the library moving into the Entler building….

Finally, within recent years, the Southern States building on Washington Street became available, and it appealed to many people who felt that it was the most desirable and prudent location for the town’s library.

Probably two of its greatest assets was that it is within walking distance from the elementary school and offered great parking spaces. Sure, there would have been challenges, but it also offered the opportunity to create a fabulous and inspiring “adaptive re-use” of an existing building, in town that we all could have been proud of.

But the greatest challenge of that location/building was that some of the board members let their personal feelings get in the way of good judgment.

Yes, I have heard that the board was “so committed” to the old dump site, that it “was too late” to consider the Southern States building. But, I had also heard that one architect was so enthusiastic about the rehab, that he would offer pro-bono plans.

Building bigger and newer doesn’t mean better; each week the Chronicle lists many library sponsored events that occur in the present building– so why does it have to relocate to the suburbs? If it wants to move to a shopping center, why not move out to Maddox Square, which offers convenience, parking and a pedestrian path?

No, the town has not run the library out of town, the library board has done that themselves.

Diana Suttenfield