BEEBE — As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come. And they have.
Beebe’s new Goff Public Library opened Feb. 24, and the staff has already seen the difference a new building with a little more space can make.
Branch Manager Ramona Howell said library attendance has been up 50 percent since the opening, and more than 100 new library cards were issued during March.
“They’re able to do more here than they could do in the old building,” said Darla Ino, White County Regional Library System library director.
The building that used to house Beebe’s public library was built in the 1930s and was occupied for several years by the local American Legion chapter. The library moved into the building in the early 1970s but outgrew the facility in recent years.
The new building at 323 N. Elm St. comfortably houses the library’s 12,625 print items and 2,468 nonprint items — movies, music and audio books. Additionally, the new library has a study room, a kids’ area with a computer filled with educational games, a teen area for young-adult fiction, six public computers, a gathering room with audio/visual equipment, a kitchenette and a safe room in case of bad weather.
“We try to have something for everyone,” Howell said.
Throughout the library, furniture and tables are situated next to — or come with built-in — electrical outlets to better serve library patrons.
“The last building had five outlets, I think,” Howell said. “This is a major improvement.”
The new library is called the Goff Public Library in honor of Leroy Goff, father of White County Regional Library System Board Chairman Clay Goff. Leroy, who owns Goff Realty, offered to provide the labor for construction of the new building.
“[Clay’s father] stepped forward and offered his services for free,” Ino said.
The city already owned the land, and the cost of the materials was covered by state aid and the city of Beebe.
“We were able to have this building because the county and city worked together,” Howell said.
On April 16, the library will host an open house to celebrate the new building. The doors will be open from noon to 6 p.m., and light refreshments will be available. At 3:30, Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson will conduct a short presentation and ribbon cutting. From 4-6 p.m., local balloon artist Jared Nesbit will be at the library in the children’s area.
The Goff Public Library is open from noon to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.