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Vidalia library plans expansion

VIDALIA — Libraries aren’t just about books anymore, and though it will still offer plenty of those, the Concordia Parish Library has plans to expand its space and technological offerings to the public in the coming year.

Concordia Parish Library Director Amanda Taylor met last week with architects to plan the next expansion of its Vidalia branch. The expansion will take in the remainder of the first floor of the old parish courthouse, part of which the library remodeled five years ago.

“This is going to be really exciting for the parish,” Taylor said. “This will be a real update to the Vidalia library, and it is going to finish what we started five years ago.”

The expansion will add a permanent computer lab, a small conference room for the public to use, a study room with furniture designed to accommodate portable computers and tablet devices and a teen reading area.

“We already have a separate, beautiful children’s area, and it is a real focus for public libraries now to get teens into the library to encourage them to read, and teens like a separate area — it will have a different type of furnishing, stools that have the piece that comes up on them and holds up their (tablet computer) device,” Taylor said.

“The teens are very important, they are our future adults, and we need to do whatever we can to encourage them to read.”

When the expansion is completed, it will have a laptop bar and will have wireless Internet access, Taylor said.

“Libraries are not just traditional libraries any more, they are very high tech, and we are accommodating all the people who want to come in,” she said.

The construction, which will include new carpet, is estimated to cost approximately $300,000, while the new furnishings and necessary wiring will cost approximately $100,000.

Taylor said the library had to wait until the old courthouse roof could be fixed to stop a leak, and then had to wait until the project could be funded through the library’s ad valorem tax collection.

“We have saved our money, and have been putting money back for some time,” she said.

“We operate very tightly so that whenever we are ready to do these construction projects we can.”

Police Juror and library board member Whest Shirley — who is also the principal at Vidalia Junior High School — said he is happy to know that the library will have a space designed for teens.

“We have finally saved up our pennies, and we are ready to start ripping up some carpet and painting some walls,” he said. “The library is a well-kept secret, and we want to get the public out and to come in and use it — this will put the icing on the cake.”

Taylor said she expects construction to finish in early 2014.

“It is going to be a little messy, and our patrons are going to be a little inconvenienced, but I think they will be very pleased,” she said.