In 100th year, library ready for new building
By Lynn R. Parks
At the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Seaford District Library, Doug Hunter, member of the library’s board, announced that the board is undertaking a fund-raising effort to build a new facility.
“We will be talking to you in the next few months, to help us share in the dream of a new 25,000-square foot library,” he told the audience of about 230.
The current library, built in 1963, is too small, Hunter said. “We are very strapped for space. The book stacks are crowded from floor to ceiling so that when we get new books, old ones have to be taken off. We want a cultural center, not someplace where you go to be quiet but someplace that has book signings and art shows. But we are restricted by space.”
Dr. Edith Villasenor, president of the library board, told the audience that the board was “entering the primary planning stage of a building program.”
Following the celebration, Villasenor said that the board is getting close to deciding on a site for a new library. “Maybe we could start building by the beginning of the year and be finished by the end of the year,” she said. “Maybe it could be. It really depends on the site.”
The board hopes to raise $7 million for the project, Villasenor said. Half of that would come from the community and from grants, the other half would come from the state.
Villasenor said that the board is looking for people to head up its fund-raising efforts. At a planning meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, the board will set up committees to focus on different aspects of fund-raising.
“We will work on getting community support first,” Villasenor said. “We will get grants when we can show that the community supports us.”
The board announced last year that it was interested in constructing a new library. But the board’s consideration of a piece of property on the Nanticoke River generated complaints from the community, pushing the board to delay the project and ultimately to consider handing the library over to the county. After a large public meeting, the board voted unanimously to keep the library independent.
Villasenor said that she believes the board and the community are ready to tackle the building project again. “We have decided not to focus on people that express disagreement with building a new library, but to focus on the library itself,” she said. “Sometimes with new ideas, people are not receptive until they see the reasons for the change.”
And she hopes that the recent birthday party inspires the community to support the building project.
“We are not just talking about the Internet and electronic access, but about cultural events” for the community, she said. “This is about inclusiveness, something for all people. We hope that the community gets involved and gets excited, just by being a part of it.”
At the birthday party, held last Tuesday at the Seaford Golf and Country Club, State Sen. Bob Venables (D - Laurel) pledged his support to libraries, even in the face of a tight state budget. “We will have to make cuts, but they won’t be to libraries in my book,” he said. “I hope I can keep my promise.”
Blades mayor B. J. Hardin, a self-described “avid reader,” praised libraries as places where children learn to read and learn.
“My grandson, who is in the second grade, was just tested on the sixth-grade reading level,” he said. “Places like the Seaford District Library make it possible for children to be able to do that.”
As part of the ceremony, certificates were handed out to former directors, to past and current employees and to former and current members of the board. Members of the Acorn Club, which founded the library, and of the Friends of the Library were honored.
State Rep. Tina Fallon read a tribute from the state House, Venables read a similar tribute from the Senate and Hardin and Seaford mayor Dan Short both proclaimed Seaford District Library Day.
Alisa Parker is serving as acting director after the resignation of Dee McDonnell. She said that the celebration, and the fact that the library has survived for 100 years, speaks to the dedication of the community to a library.
“The community has supported us down through the years, which indicates that they understand the value of learning and reading,” she said. “The number of people here tonight says a lot about how committed the community is to the library.”
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