McIver's Grant Public Library opened its new home to residents of Dyer County on Monday, Jan. 14.
Opening day of the new state-of-the-art, ADA-compliant library building took place just over two years after library officials gathered in the lobby of the Lannom Center to announce a capital campaign to construct a new library in downtown Dyersburg.
Since 1964, McIver's Grant Public Library has rested in the home of the former post office on Mill Avenue. While the beauty of the historic building was appreciated, members of the Library Board found it a challenge to update the building to ADA-compliant standards.
The children's department was reached by navigating a narrow staircase to the basement, a difficult task for strollers and wheelchairs. Archives for genealogy were located upstairs, a hardship to access for many residents. Antiquated wiring limited the number of computers the library was able to offer the community. A small lot offered few parking places with no room for expansion.
Throughout the building, library employees made the most of the space available to them, but it was soon apparent that there was not enough room to continue growing in the present location.
The transformation of the old Piggly Wiggly on West Court Street also provided an opportunity to increase parking and offer all the library's amenities on one floor. An inviting learning garden is also under construction, with access available from the children's area.
A spacious children's department with separate Story Time and craft areas is now available, as well as a space strictly dedicated to genealogy. An open floor plan, an inviting fireplace and a separate community room are also new additions.
After closing for a week to move books and furniture, McIver's Grant Public Library opened its new facility at 9 a.m., on Monday, Jan. 14.
Library Director Dara Gonzales said she appreciates the patience of the community as the library opened on Monday with limited services. Several of the computers did not arrive on time and the Internet access was not available on opening day. Wifi was offered for those who needed it.
"I have been enjoying listening to people's reactions as they come in," said Gonzales. "This morning, we heard several audible gasps. That made all the hard work worthwhile."
"What a wonderful space," said Mary Ellen Aube, who took advantage of the new library's long-awaited genealogy room on Monday.
"I think this library is awesome," said Barbara Grisso of Finley. "This is my first visit. I was tempted to come in when they were building it, but I decided to wait until I could come in and get a book. I love it."
"It is all new and fresh," said Lynn Doyle, also of Finley.
Grisso was especially impressed by the open floor plan when she walked in the main doors of the library.
"When you walk in that door coming out of the foyer, there is just this vast space," said Grisso. "When I saw that fireplace, I could just see myself sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate and a book. They have really nailed it down. From what it looks like, there is something for everyone."
"I love it," said Nathan Paschall as he perused the shelves for a book.
"Today was very exciting," said Children's Librarian Lara Freidhof. "We have been looking at it for months, but today was the first time for a lot of people to see it. We wanted them to be as excited as we are. The board worked hard on this. It took them years to get this up and running and they did a phenomenal job. I want the community to be as proud of it as we are."
"It is just a cool thing," said Assistant Director Sharon Simpson. "Everyone needs to come and see it. You can talk about it all day, but until you walk in the door you can't imagine it. It is amazing. You'll just have to come see us."
As the first day came to a close, Gonzales commended members of the Library Board and community volunteers for their assistance with the move.
"I say 'Bravo!' to the people who helped," said Gonzales. "I think most places can't move a library in a week."