Saturday, April 19, 2014

TOP STORY >> A modern library opens in Beebe

Leader staff writer

The Goff Public Library in Beebe, a dream of many people, held a grand opening on Wednesday for residents and city leaders.

Mayor Mike Robertson said White County Regional Library System chairman Clay Goff came to him over a year ago and told him the city needed a library.

Robertson said no grants were available, but the library system, the city and the state helped fund the project.

Developer Leroy Goff donated his time, labor and expertise to design and construct it.

Robertson said, “This building was paid for by your tax dollars. The regional library system saved money. (The city) had some money, so we put it all together, and a dream came true.

“We have a wonderful library to be proud of,” he concluded.

The $375,000 library was paid for with funds from the White County Regional Library System plus $100,000 from the city.

The 3,500-square-foot building is located between city hall and the fire department.

It moved from its old 1,200-square-foot building the city leased for $350 a month from the Beebe American Legion Post 91. The library has been at the Legion hut since the 1970s.

Clay Goff said, “About five years ago, I had a dream but did not have a plan. I began to study, and, finally, 18 months ago, I went to the board and said, ‘I’ve got some ideas.’ We began to work on things, and they said, if you can make it happen, do it.”

Clay Goff met with his dad, Leroy, who helped make it happen. His father was at the building site daily making the plans a reality.

“I had lots of folks come to my office — 90 percent were excited and had positive comments, but 10 percent were negative comments. A library? Aren’t they on the verge of extinction? Aren’t they a dinosaur with today’s technology and modern times? Do we really need a library?” Goff said.

“Yes, we do. What we have today is a state-of-the-art building that is a tree of knowledge that will continue to grow,” he said.

Goff said the library offers summer reading programs for grade schoolers so they do not forget what they learned and do not fall behind during the upcoming school year.

For teenagers, the library has Wi-Fi access and a teen area with books and magazines for their age group.

The building has six computer stations, so people looking for work can apply for jobs online.

The library also offers e-books to download, so patrons do not have to leave their homes to enjoy reading.

For retirees, the facility is a place to socialize, stay up to date on current events and keep their minds sharp.

And they can e-mail their children and grandchildren.

Goff said 55,000 items were checked out last year from the old library.

“Imagine what this facility will do,” he said.

State Librarian Carolyn Ashcraft said libraries have changed over the years to meet the needs of today.

She said there is something for everyone at the Goff Public Library.

“Every year, circulation keeps going up. As you open up this new facility people (will) start coming in and using it,” Ashcraft said.

“You will see, in less than five years, this board will be talking about how can we raise the money to do an expansion on that new building we’ve already outgrown. That is a wonderful thing,” Ashcraft said.

“Think of this facility as your community center. There are lots of things you can get besides just a book to checkout,” Ashcraft said.

The Goff Public Library is open from noon until 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

It is closed Friday and Sunday.