CATEGORY: Lafayette County
OXFORD DENIES FULL LIBRARY FUND REQUEST
By Jane Hill
OXFORD - Supporters of the Lafayette County-Oxford Public Library, one of the state's most heavily used, will have to regroup after a $227,000 funding request to the Oxford Board of Aldermen met with limited support.
Oxford Mayor John Leslie said the board voted Tuesday night to spend up to $45,000 to replace the library's inefficient and leaky heating-and-cooling system, but denied any further funding to the county-owned facility.
"I think this is as far as the city is going to go in funding the library," Leslie said.
The air-conditioning system topped the library building committee's wish list. In the summer months the second floor of the library becomes unbearably hot because the 20-year-old air-conditioning system does not work properly, said Dotsy Fitts, head librarian.
Library supporters feared remodeling for a new genealogical research room on the library's second floor would essentially be wasted in the summer months if the building could not be properly air conditioned.
"We are looking at it philosophically," Fitts said of the board's decision. "It is more than we had when we went in."
However, the city's refusal to fund the remaining $182,000 requested will leave some definite gaps in what is needed to furnish the expanded area of the library and what is needed to refurbish the existing library, which has not been remodeled in decades.
In addition to the heating-and-cooling system, library supporters had requested money for seating for the new auditorium space being constructed in the library annex, shelving for books, carpeting, the reupholstering of old library furniture and restroom and ceiling repairs.
The 8,500-square-foot expansion is being funded through a $200,000 state capital improvements grant and $133,000 dedicated by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors. Oxford aldermen had already dedicated $400,000 in city tourism tax dollars to the project.
Because building costs were more than expected, there was not enough money to fully furnish the annex, Fitts said.
Leslie, who also serves on the library's building committee, said he doubted that the Lafayette County supervisors would be interested in dedicating any more money to the project than they already have.
"We have come to a sort of standoff," Leslie said.
Both Fitts and Leslie believe that some form of fund-raiser will be planned in the future to begin providing some of the things that are needed for the library, though both agree it will be a slow process.