At Monday’s Lowndes County Democratic Party meeting, LCDP Chair Gretchen Quarterman introduced Kay Harris as chairman of the Library Board. You can see that board in action a few weeks ago in these previous videos.
Kay Harris said she was not there as editor of the newspaper, since as such she wouldn’t be allowed (presumably by the newspaper) at a partisan meeting. She was there as chair of the library board. She said this is her fifth year on that board, and her second year as chairman.
Here’s a video playlist.
She said the county put her on that board to move along the library project, which had been in process for some time. She said she had led negotiations with the City of Valdosta for the Five Points process. She mentioned the Five Points Steering Committee, of which she is also a member.
About the current library building and how the new one would be better, she said,
The 62,000 square feet that the building is going to be is the minimum that meets current state standards. We are less than half that now. So we don’t anywhere near closely meet the current state standards for what this community is supposed to have. We don’t have the number of books; we don’t have the number of computers; we are seriously seriously behind just what the current standards are. The community put that library up about 50 years ago; it’s about 45 years old, and they just haven’t really done a whole lot to it since, folks. They added some on in the early 90s. The roof leaks, there’s mold, there’s two HVAC systems that don’t work together.
She said the plan included a separate space for African-American history, and also a temperature-controlled genealogy collection area, plus a coffee shop.
She said the state estimated $21 million, but the county and “the architect we’ve selected” think it can come in at $16 million. Of that $13 million is to come from SPLOST VII ( on the ballot in November). The rest must come from the state, if the legislature chooses to fund it, and they usually only fund one library project a year, maybe two or three. That would be only $1 million. The rest will come from the sale of the property to South Georgia Medical Center.
She said the computers are packed now with students doing homework, people filling out job applications, filling out college applications…
And everything else that’s currently online that you don’t have access to if you don’t have a computer. And unfortunately it’s hard to convince some folks in this town that every person in this county doesn’t have a computer at home. It’s amazing to me how many people think, “just tell them to go buy one for themselves.” Well, sure, that’s real easy, isn’t it? Everybody’s got a couple thousand dollars sitting around.
Would that be the sort of people who think anyone can afford $21 for a NOAA weather radio so the county shouldn’t accept a grant to buy them, yet it can award the Commissioners $75/day for travel and buy a tank? I’m just guessing; she didn’t say.
Kay Harris said the library is currently 60 computers below the state requirement, and the new facility needs at least 150.
This is all great stuff. Still, putting the library in the soon-to-be-vacant federal building would probably cost even less. And she had no explanation for why the library board selected an out-of-state architect.