Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 31, 2013

Library retooled to provide a more comfortable reading atmosphere

JACKSONVILLE — Getting tired of that annoying bookstore clerk who keeps telling you, "This isn't a library!" when you skim through magazines? Problem solved.

Officials have retooled several key areas of the Jacksonville Public Library to make room for a small study room and a huge reading room with an expanded magazine rack and several comfortable chairs. Reading heaven!

So, forget about those bookstore employees who distract you constantly while putting the 'ding' in reading. There is no charge to read through these well-stocked stacks of periodicals.

This relaxing, calm area was just stocked with new furniture – as early as Wednesday morning. Jacksonville Mayor Kenneth B. Melvin, City Manager Mo Raissi, and Library Director Barbara Crossman were on hand that afternoon to give the area their "Two Thumbs, Way Up!" stamp of approval.

"Based on my self-administered test of the chairs, I can say the area is extremely comfortable," Mayor Melvin said with an enthusiastic smile.

The two new areas occupy the same corner space of the library as the 150-square-foot "Vanishing Texana Mu-seum" which has been moved to the city's Senior Center. The museum – filled with memories and history of Cherokee County's past – was actually located in the Senior Center once upon a time.

However, limited space made this move necessary. (The museum has as many as 500 artifacts.)

This adaptation, meanwhile, has been a work-in-progress for the past three years, the library director said.  

In addition to the expansion and move, brand news shelves valued at $3,000 have been installed in an area a few feet away from these new rooms. Placed on that shelf are covers that can be brought up to the front counter in return for DVD rentals.

Director Crossman said all areas of renovation are part of an ongoing series of improvements, the results of a cost-sharing between local entities that include the city and the Jacksonville Library Association,

More library improvements are coming, officials said, so watch the skies. Raissi said the next wave includes front desk renovations for which bids already are being solicited.

But most important is the purpose the new rooms are designed to serve, which is to prove the comfort and quiet atmosphere needed to foster reading and, ultimately, improved literacy, officials said.

"Really, it's wonderful," the mayor said Wednes-day afternoon. "It's only been here two and a half hours and it has already attracted a lot of people, which is exactly what we want."

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