Pontotoc aldermen consider funding for library work

By Jane Hill

Daily Journal

OXFORD - Aldermen took under advisement a request from the Lafayette County-Oxford Public Library for more than $200,000 to help repair and furnish old and new sections of the library.

Head librarian Dotsy Fitts and members of the library's building committee presented aldermen with photographs of some of the problem areas in the library, which included a 20-year-old heating-and-cooling system that continually breaks down and leaks water inside the building.

Other needs addressed in the request included auditorium seating in the portion of the library currently under construction, the reupholstering of old library furniture, carpeting, and restroom and ceiling repairs.

The library is currently involved in an 8,500-square-foot expansion and renovation of its building, one of the most heavily used libraries in the state. The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors have dedicated $133,000 in county funds and applied for a $200,000 state capital improvements grant for the construction. Oxford has already dedicated $400,000 in city tourism tax money to the project.

Aldermen questioned Fitts and others closely about the need for the items on the list, asking whether some of the furnishings should have been included in the overall cost of construction for the library addition.

Fitts said plans for the project were begun before the gambling industry had its impact on construction costs in north Mississippi. The scarcity of available contractors and the consequently higher costs of construction caused the building committee to budget for the needed space and seek the money for furnishings and other "extras" elsewhere.

"We decided it would be easier to buy a chair as we go than it would be to buy a new wall," Fitts said.

The library's primary need is a new heating-and-cooling system. Many patrons can testify that in summer months the second floor of the library can become unbearably hot, Fitts said.

The Kerin Coffey Magdovitz Genealogical Research Room is to be located on the second floor of the existing library where the auditorium is now located.

Aldermen said they would consider the building committee's request and make a decision at the board's next meeting Feb. 6.

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