COLUMBIA — Success has turned out to be a mixed blessing for the Columbia Public Library.
“As the usage of the building continues to grow, it’s becoming more and more crowded, so there is a greater and greater need for parking,” said Tom Richards, president of the Columbia Library District Board.
Finding enough room for parking is a familiar problem for the library. With two lots offering a total of 237 spaces being full more often than not, there has been some concern that parking will begin to spill out into the surrounding residential areas.
First National Bank has provided the library with a potential solution. They offered the library board the opportunity to purchase land located on the corner of North Garth Avenue and Walnut Street, land the board hopes could eventually serve as an additional parking area. On Jan. 15, the Columbia Public Library Board of Trustees entered a closed session regarding this real estate possibility. Staff members are currently gathering information and recommendations into a report on the matter, and upon its completion, they will present their findings to the board.
“It is something that makes sense for the library to acquire really for the future, and one of the possible uses would be to expand parking availability, which has become an issue,” Richards said.
The land, which currently holds two dilapidated homes, would be purchased with library funds.
This plan is still in the preliminary fact-finding stages, and the board is reviewing the situation to see if it is something they are interested in pursuing without a set deadline.
“The Columbia board discussed it, and if approved, the issue will move to the regional board,” said Melissa Carr, director of the Columbia Public Library. “It will be several months before anything is decided.”
The board will also have to keep in mind the current economic climate but does have money set aside for when opportunities such as this present themselves. As this land is being considered for future use, Richards said he believes it is possible the land will not be developed right away, allowing time for the economy to improve.
Even if nothing comes of these informal negotiations, parking is an issue the board will continue to consider.
“The library is a permanent institution and will still be there 50 or 100 years down the road,” Richards said.
Because the number of people the library serves continues to increase yearly, according to 2007-2008 Service Report for the Daniel Boone Regional Library, this plan would be a proactive solution for the expected continued growth.
Richards noted the bottom line is the situation resulted from success and there are worse things the library could be faced with.
“It is a problem we like to deal with,” he said.