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Conway County Library director looking at expansion

By Tammy Keith

This article was published January 26, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

MORRILTON — The Conway County Library in Morrilton is approaching 100 years old, but it’s far from obsolete, said Jay Carter, director.

“We’re working on here pretty soon to celebrate our centennial,” he said.

Opened in 1916, the library is one of only two public libraries in the state operating in its original Carnegie Library building, Carter said. The other is in Eureka Springs.

Although the library’s 100th anniversary won’t be until 2016, Carter believes in planning ahead.

He said discussions are underway on a project to add 4,000 square feet to the library.

“I’m in the early planning stages. I’m working with architects; we’re planning it,” he said.

“We’re talking several years away,” he said of the construction.

However, “we’re cramped for space,” Carter said.

The estimated cost of the project is between $2 million and $3 million, he said.

That’s something else he’s working on — how to fund the expansion, he said.

He has a vision of what is needed.

“We would expand to the south of the building and extend into some of the parking lot we have,” Carter said.

“It’ll house the general collection, and the rest of the library will house a genealogy library at some point.”

He said the plan includes room for “more computers, quiet study areas and a community room, which we’re planning on to hold up to 65 people.”

A free meeting room for the public is something that’s needed in Morrilton, he said, and it would be used for library programs.

“We offer programs for kids through adults — weekly story times every Tuesday at 10, and we have a big summer reading program for the kids, programs throughout the year for teens and for the adults,” Carter said.

The library was last renovated in 2011 — for only the third time in its history, Carter said.

“What we did was, we restored the exterior of the historical half of the building, repaired the windows. We did a lot of work — painted the facade, restored some of the wood. It was a fairly extensive restoration,” he said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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