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Shelf Talk 30: County Update

Did you know that you have six public libraries at your service in Mississippi County? That’s right: SIX! And all are here to serve you.

The mission of the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) is to bring people, ideas, collections, services, and technology together to advance a rich quality of life in our communities. In the month of March alone, over 3,100 customers came through a MCLS library door: coming to find a new book, use a computer, get help with a resume or job search, request a notary, complete schoolwork, or play a game. As COVID19 restrictions continue to lift, we look forward to resuming in-person programing and events and to supporting our communities in our quest to Enrich Your Life.

One of the MCLS stated values is to ensure “county-wide, rural, egalitarian access to physical resources, facilities, and in-person services.” Over the past year, this Shelf Talk column has covered ways in which MCLS has lived out its mission and values through the Blytheville Library. A fresh roof and skylight have led to a renewed interior with plenty of room to read, relax, meet, and play. Expanded evening and weekend hours and a variety of programming seek to serve our whole community.

MCLS has also been doing good work beyond Blytheville. 2019 and 2020 brought a gaming station to the Leachville Library, additional shelving and a refreshed layout to the Manila Library, and a completely rebuilt and refurbished Keiser Library, following a devastating tornado. 2021 will bring modern updates and services for all branches, with special attention at the Wilson and Osceola libraries.

The Wilson Library lies on a quiet corner of its idyllic Town Square. As Wilson continues its town development, the library’s space is scheduled to change. Over the next few months, about one third of the current footage will be redirected to another town project. The remaining space will feature computer and internet stations and place a high priority on children’s books. MCLS director Lowell Walters is in talks with Wilson community leadership to develop plans for a long-term solution that would give the library more space for its collections and activities. Watch this column and MCLS social media channels for updates about this exciting project!

The Osceola Library is an historic building in need of modernization. Gifted to MCLS by the Osceola Progressive Club six years ago, this nearly 70-year-old structure requires updates to bring it to modern fire code and accessibility standards. MCLS recently replaced the membrane of the flat roof and painted and repaired broken windows. We can now turn our attention to address interior water damage and much needed updates.

An architectural firm, Polk Stanley Wilcox, is completing a feasibility study to determine the work needed to create ADA-compliant restrooms and second floor access, renovate the kitchen, renew the second-story theater, and implement fire suppression and electric infrastructure updates. These necessary projects will likely take several years to complete, but will offer our community a space they can enjoy for generations.

The MCLS tagline, Enrich Your Life, is a challenge to us to continually improve our space, offerings, and services. As we continue to pull our buildings into the 21st century, we seek to similarly expand our collections and broaden the scope of programs we offer. If you have any ideas for ways to continue to improve the services we provide to Mississippi County, reach out! As always, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or suggestions.

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