March 5th, 2014
Progress-Index- March 5, 2014
The final push for a new library in Petersburg is on.
The fund-raising campaign for the construction of the new Petersburg Public Library is now just a little under $200,000 of its goal. So far, the Petersburg Library Foundation has raised about $12.5 million for the roughly $12.7 million project, according to Bob Walker, president of the library’s foundation.
The library is expected to open in April, according to Walker. Simply put, the new library could very well be a game changer in Petersburg by providing a multifunctional gathering space that will enrich the city in many ways.
As part of it’s community focus, the new library features about three times more space devoted to children’s programs on its lower level than the current 1,000 square feet in the William R. McKenney central branch. The current space in the central branch is also shared with other library group programs.
A cafe and gift shop will be located downstairs in the new library. Community outreach programs such as the READ Center will have dedicated classroom and study spaces upstairs. The nonprofit focuses on promoting adult literacy. There will be 60 computers designated for public use. The current central library has only about 25 computers, which forced many patrons to wait in line.
Also, the library is expected to have space for the Healthy Living and Learning Center, a partnership between the Petersburg Public Library System, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, The center is a key part of the city’s effort to combat obesity, other diseases and to promote healthier lifestyles.
So the new library is more than a library – it is a central place that will play a key role in adult literacy, children’s programs and early education, providing computer technology to those who don’t have it, a resource for entrepreneurs and job seekers and promoting healthy living.
It truly is a building for the betterment of the community. And the community – from school children to individuals to businesses – have rallied to raise money for the library. “The community has really been a big supporter of this thing, from children raising pennies, to churches and sororities,” Walker said.
But a final push is needed to raise the last dollars. We as a community are almost there.
A groundbreaking for the 45,000-square-foot library – which is several times larger and vastly more modern than the present building on South Sycamore Street – was held in April 2012. There have been several delays in the opening due to weather-related construction setbacks and challenges in rasing money.
But the time for a great new community gathering space is almost upon us. It’s been a long time coming, but when people walk through the doors of the new Petersburg Public Library they will quickly learn that the wait and the effort was worth it.