Design finalized for new main county library in Houston

A Springfield architectural firm completed drawings last week for a proposed new Houston branch of the Texas County Library.

The finished floor plan and exterior design comes after several weeks of meetings conducted by the Texas County Library board and the Texas County Library Foundation, which was formed in 2003 to support the library’s mission in the county and help raise funds and obtain grants.

Work on the Houston location comes after branch upgrades earlier at Licking and Cabool. Houston’s branch is planned as the upper level of the Houston Storm Shelter at First and Pine streets in Houston. The foundation partnered with the City of Houston and the Federal Emergency Management Administration to obtain $960,000 in federal grants for construction of a 7,200 square foot storm shelter. The local match was 20 percent of the $1.2 million project.

As a second phase, the original plans called for a community resource center to be built on top of the City of Houston’s storm shelter, which was completed in 2005, but funds have not been available to complete phase two.

Based upon preliminary plans, Sapp Design Associates, the Springfield firm hired to complete the work, estimates that funding totaling about $1.4 million will be required to complete the project. Upon the request of Gov. Jay Nixon, the foundation earlier submitted a detailed plan for consideration under the state leader’s Transform Missouri initiative that seeks to create jobs and transform the economy for the 21st century. Funding comes from the federal government’s stimulus package.

Another portion of the stimulus package also is expected to be distributed through U.S. Rural Development for community facilities. The foundation is working toward qualifying for a Community Development Block Grant application. The group also has identified foundations with an interest in library projects.

Libraries have evolved to include much more than books on shelves. The Houston branch will be known as Community Resource Center. It includes administration space for the entire county library system; Texas County Rural Area Information Network (TRAIN), a local non-profit Internet provider; community meeting rooms, study rooms, a local genealogy area, Wi-Fi Internet access; and a computer training lab and early literacy and childhood area.

The current library provides 21 public access computer stations, including special units for early literacy and the visually impaired. The new center will provide much-needed space for these activities. The current library was built in 1950 and services provided are greatly limited and diminished because of lack of space.

The shelter is within walking distance to the school and senior housing and is available to any resident during a storm or disaster in addition to providing large meeting spaces at other times. It is the polling location for the Houston precinct.

Under final drawings completed last week, the upper level includes space needed for library functions, as well as a community meeting room that can be open when the rest of the building is closed.

Members of the library foundation’s board are: Kent Williamson, Cabool; Colleen Bradford, Summersville; Brad Gentry, Houston; Gwen Ross, Eunice; Janet Fraley, Houston; Terry Jones, Cabool; Lavon Cooper, Bucyrus; Linda Roberts, Licking; Sally Smith, Houston; Shirline Wade, Plato; and Audrey Barnhart, Houston.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply