Library Board Planning Two New Gulfport Facilities

"We're definitely not going back where we were. That's been decided," said Harrison County Library director Robert Lipscomb, as he discussed future plans outside the temporary headquarters on 24th Avenue.

Just a few miles away, the ravages of Katrina are still evident at the downtown library. Storm surge washed away the entire first floor.

"I would like to see about a thirty thousand square foot headquarters building built somewhere in Gulfport, the downtown area, but a little away from the water. And maybe a 15,000 square foot facility in Orange Grove."

Lipscomb remains wide open for a possible site downtown. No property has been selected yet.

"And I think it could be the focal point of the redevelopment of downtown. And the mayor's even talked about a kind of cultural complex, having a theater and library right next to each other."

"My first story times were here in this library. So, it's a special place to me," said Orange Grove librarian Lorianne Hawkins.

She says the branch facility is busier than ever. Talk of building a new branch three times larger is welcome news.

"It's going to be wonderful. We've needed a larger library for some time. We've got quite a large are and it's growing out this way," said Hawkins.

When this downtown Gulfport library was built back in 1965, it cost 800 thousand dollars and was funded with the proceeds of a county bond issue. Building two new libraries in Gulfport now could cost more than ten million dollars.

And while FEMA and insurance money will cover the bulk of the cost, the director is confident the difference will be funded.

"There will be a bond issue maybe from the state if possible, three hundred thousand. The institute of museums and libraries has already committed about seven hundred thousand, they'll help us. And then you know, I'll raise the rest. We'll do it," said Lipscomb.

By the way, the old downtown library building is owned by the county. It will likely be demolished.  The city owns the land, but there's no word yet on any future plans for the site.