Library construction getting started

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It promises to be a busy fall for the Harrison County Library System. Construction should be underway on four new libraries, from Biloxi to Pass Christian.

A beautiful wooded five acres off Old Highway 49 will be under construction this fall. It's the future home of the Harrison County Library System headquarters.

"We're going to have a little walking trail, keeping as many trees as possible," said Library System Director Robert Lipscomb, as he pointed to plans for the new facility.

"The plans are all done. I've met with the architect several times, as has my staff. So, it's all ready to go. I think, right now, it's just a question of when they decide to start. And hopefully that will be mid to late fall," said Lipscomb.

The new Biloxi library/community center should also be under construction by then.

"Twenty eight million dollars for both of the buildings and all they're going on that site. That is going to take a little longer to finish. They're talking about 14 to 18 months once that starts," he explained.

Work on the new Pass Christian library is making progress.

"I watch it every morning when I drink my first cup of coffee and it is exciting," said Pass Christian Librarian Sally James.

While she's ready for the new building, the head librarian will long remember the trailer that served this storm-weary city so well.

"We started getting an awful lot of donations from all over the country and we were able to put together this library," said James.

Downtown Gulfport is also part of the building plans.  A new 10,000 square foot library will be built next door to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

As for the old headquarters library which caused so much controversy, the county is now marketing that property, soliciting proposals for a re-use of the old building. But the library director said whatever happens here won't impact or delay construction plans for libraries elsewhere.

"They're going to be wireless. They're going to have a lot of good computers. Hopefully this will be something the whole county can be proud of," Lipscomb said.

Director Lipscomb said the new construction comes at a time when libraries are more popular than ever. In fact, last year was a record-breaking year for Mississippi's public libraries.  They set records for both circulation and computer usage.

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