Calera’s library plans at Oliver Park hit funding roadblock

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Blueprints for the new Calera public library sit beneath a desk at the back of Janet Greathouse’s office, waiting to be handed over to the architect.

Greathouse, director of the Calera library since 1991, said she still talks about plans for the new library in the present tense, despite a lack of funding for the $1.5 million building.

In January, the city of Calera set aside space for the new library at Oliver Park, which city and county leaders hope will soon echo with the sounds of construction of a new Calera High School.

By the end of January, in hopes of quickly completing the new library, the Calera Library Board selected an architect for the project.

Now, the project has run into a $1.5 million funding obstacle.

&uot;We are 97 percent done on the blueprints and specs. We just need funding to start bids on construction,&uot; Greathouse said.

In October, Greathouse found out the Calera City Council did not have money for construction of the library. Calera Mayor George Roy said other projects, such as a new sewer disposal plant, must be handled first. Roy said the city must receive bids on the new sewer plant so that it can see if there is money available for the new library.

&uot;The library is going to go, it’s just going to take time,&uot; Roy said.

Greathouse has begun looking elsewhere for money.

&uot;We are waiting until we find other sources of funding,&uot; she said.

Greathouse said the library received a Shelby County Enrichment Grant last year, which she plans to apply for again. The library board meets in February.

&uot;We’re all brainstorming right now, trying to find other sources of funding,&uot; Greathouse said.

The current Calera public library, located in the old city courthouse, has been adapted to serve as the city’s information resource center.

As the library’s resources have grown since 1991, the facility has occupied space that once served as the city’s fire station, water department, court room, police dispatch center and jail.

&uot;We’ve outgrown our space,&uot; Greathouse said, indicating the room that once served as the holding cell just outside her office in the back of the library.

Despite the awkward setting, Greathouse takes pride in the library.

&uot;Everyday, somebody walks in and asks us something and we have to find the answer for them,&uot; she said. &uot;I believe our library really serves the public.&uot;

Magazine racks cover the bottom half of the library’s windows in the building that once served as Calera’s fire station. On the opposite wall, mystery novels and audio books perch in spaces where firemen once stowed fire fighting equipment.

&uot;We’ve been creative,&uot; Greathouse said of finding space.

The city annex building, about a block away from the library, provides space for some library activities.

In the meantime, Greathouse shares her enthusiasm for books and the future library. She said blueprints for the new library were designed around trees and the natural setting of Oliver Park.

&uot;It’s a relaxing environment,&uot; she said. &uot;I think the patrons will appreciate that.&uot;