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Jackson library group needs to raise up to $1 million

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer

Now that a site has been chosen for the new Jackson County library, the Friends of the Library have a huge undertaking — raising up to $1 million for furnishing the interior of the building.

In order to accomplish its goal, the Friends — along with the help of an Asheville consulting firm — will conduct a feasibility study.

In the weeks to come, the firm of Sims and Steele will be polling about 25 to 30 Jackson County residents. “The answers that the firm receives will be analyzed to determine the best method to raise money,” said Mary Otto-Selzer, president of the Friends of the Library. Once the feasibility study is completed, Selzer hopes to begin raising money early next year.

But before the fundraising process begins, the Friends of the Library are waiting patiently to see the library’s final schematic design. The design will affect the amount of books and furniture needed, Selzer said.

County commissioners awarded the design of the project to McMillian Smith and Partners of South Carolina at their Oct. 15 meeting.

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With the commissioners’ go ahead, architects and library officials can start formalizing the design.

In the meantime, the Friends is focusing on operating its used bookstore and increasing donations.

“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes,” Selzer said.

The Friends biggest source of revenue is its community-donated bookstore. “The bookstore’s success has been the constant contribution from residents,” she said.

Last year the organization donated more than $40,000 to the Sylva library.

Selzer expects this year’s contributions to raise even more money.

But residents do not need to worry about the current library’s resources being neglected. “The friends will continue to add funds to service the current library,” she said.

Any money left over will be placed in an account for the new site. The Friends have already raised more than $106,000 in donations for the new library.


What to expect at new library

Over the course of this summer, the Friends hosted several discussion sessions that allowed residents to give their input about what resources they would like to see at the new public library.

Some suggestions — such as increasing youth readership and having a comfortable space — ranked at the top of the priority list.

Jackson County Librarian Dottie Brunette will be one of the many people working to make sure residents’ needs are met. In the months to come, Brunette will be busy at her daily job as librarian. She will also work with architects on the building’s interior design and assist the Friends with its fundraising efforts.

One would think these tasks would present a daunting challenge, but Brunette is up to it.

She will use the experience she gained while working as librarian at the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library when that building was renovated. Seeing this project come to fruition is Brunette’s motivation.

“I am thrilled the county commissioners have made a decision,” she said. “It’s been a very long process to get to the point we are at now.”


Land’s fate up in the air

Since the new Jackson County main library will be built on courthouse hill, the two-acre lot the county commissioners purchased two years ago could be up for grabs.

At a Jackson County intergovernmental meeting on Oct. 9, county commissions threw around several ideas of what could be done with the land.

One suggestion was that the town of Sylva’s could use it for a new post office. Another idea was that the land could be sold.

Moving Sylva’s post office to the 2-acre lot along Jackson Plaza could be a win-win situation for the town and the county. The town has already given the county $40,000 toward the purchase price, said Jay Denton, Sylva town manager.

Sylva Mayor Brenda Oliver has been researching the possibilities of moving the town’s post office to this site. Sylva’s current facility is too small and is not handicap accessible, Oliver said.

So far she has not heard any specifics from the United States Postal Service about the move.

If the post office is not built at the site, county commissioners do have the option of selling the property.

“We no longer need it for our purposes, so we could sell it,” Jackson County Manager Ken Westmoreland said.

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