Pelham looking to get new library

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pelham Library Director Barbara Roberts displays a rendering of what the new library could look like one day during an Aug. 23 meeting of the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham Public Library officials are making initial plans to possibly construct a new library building near Pelham City Park on U.S. 31, Library Director Barbara Roberts told the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club during an Aug. 23 meeting.

During the meeting, Roberts unveiled a rendering of what the library could look like, and said Pelham could build it on city-owned property currently housing the Belle Vista mobile home park and the Gofourth mobile home business near Pelham City Park.

“The idea is that you would have a library incorporated into the city park,” Roberts said. “I’m a big believer that it’s easier to bring a service to where the people are than it is to try to bring people to where the service is.”

If constructed, Robers said the two-story building would house the library on the first floor, and said the second floor would house a business incubator and a cultural arts center for music, dance and art.

She also said the building would include an auditorium and a satellite campus for the University of Montevallo’s masters in business administration program.

“This building would be the anchor for a new city center for Pelham,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the current library, which occupies two stories adjacent to City Hall, was originally constructed as a health department, and is struggling to keep up with the amount of activity it handles.

She said the current library does not have enough parking, and said the supports holding up the weight of the books on the first floor make it difficult to modify the building’s layout.

Roberts said more than 20,000 people came in to use the library’s computers last year, and said the library provided more than $6 million worth of services to library users in 2011.

She said the new library could cost about $140 per square foot.

“I’ve dreamed about this (new library) for 25 years,” Roberts said. “The person who put this into motion has been Mayor Don Murphy.”