$1.2 Million Project: Rusk to open new library in the fall

Published on Saturday, 1 February 2014 22:24 - Written by By Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

RUSK — Singletary Memorial Library, which is funded by the city, will open a new facility and renovated quarters this fall, Library Director Amy Derrington said.

Construction of a building to house the library has begun, and the project also will include renovation of the existing building, she said.

The new building will be behind the existing building on Sixth Street. The entire project is estimated to cost $1.2 million for both construction and renovation.

The addition will provide a 5,700-square-foot building to accommodate the library, while the existing 1,900-square-foot library will be converted into a community meeting room with a kitchenette and restrooms that will be useable during festivities on the square on weekends, Ms. Derrington said.

The new library will have a much larger children’s room with an activity room, an outside patio seating area and a coffee bar inside.

Ms. Derrington said with the larger facility, the library will be able to upgrade its nonfiction selection and increase its total collection of books from approximately 25,000 currently to around 30,000.

“We are gaining quite a bit,” she said.

The library received a $50,000 grant from the Tocker Foundation to cover cost of furnishings of the new library.

The library raised about $40,000 from a dinner party with the theme of The Great Gatsby last November. Another dinner party with the theme “Gone With the Wind” is scheduled May 3 to benefit the library.

Ms. Derrington said the library will continue raising funds, but the city is funding the majority of the costs for the construction and renovation.

“It was amazing that the city council stepped up. If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t be happening,” she said.

The library has outgrown its current quarters due to the number of patrons, number of books and computers providing access to the Internet, Ms. Derrington said.

It has boxes of donated books that it does not have space to display.

“We are saving them until we get a new library and have plenty of room,” she said.

The library has “a little more than 3,000 patrons,” Ms. Derrington estimated, not counting people who come in just to use its computers.

“We have usually 50 to 75 people come in on a daily basis to use the computers,” she said, and several schools use the computer area for a testing center.

Patrons come in and hang out, she observed.

The library is on land donated to the city by the Singletary family.

It evolved from the Bachelor Girls Library Club, established in 1902 by 15 single women with fewer than 50 books that were later donated to the city. The club was originally housed at the Acme Hotel and is believed to be the first public library in Cherokee County, according to research by Deborah Burchett.