City breaks ground on new library


Gainesville city Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls smiles as she and others toss a shovelful of dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Cone Park Branch Public Library.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.

Large crowds and happy faces were the order of the morning — and never mind the bitter cold — at a joyous gathering to celebrate the ground breaking of the new Cone Park Branch Library.

The ceremony was held last Thursday at the permanent site of the new library located just west of the Eastside Recreation Center at 2841 E. University Ave. The Rev. Dr. Marie Herring, pastor of Dayspring Baptist Church, delivered the invocation.

In her welcoming remarks, Shaney Livingston, director of the Alachua County Library District, said the new library will offer a social services component through Partnership for Strong Families.

Katie Fields, resource manager at Partnership, said Cherie Watters, a family specialist, will be onsite at the new library twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. Fields said the program at Cone Park will be based on the needs of the community. "Cherie will be connecting with the residents," Fields said.

"A lot of what we do goes on outside of the building. We will see what the residents want and don't want."

Dan Whitcraft, facilities administrator at the library district, said work on the new library is expected to begin the second week in April.

"The new library will have something for everyone," Livingston said. "Because of a partnership with the city (of Gainesville), we're here today. Before the end of 2013, there will be a building on this site."

Livingston said the city provided the land for the temporary library, the permanent library and space to hold special programs at the Eastside Recreation Center.

Livingston commended the staff at the Cone Park library for going beyond the walls of the library to reach out to the community. She recognized residents and groups that have been instrumental in making the Cone Park library a reality.

Speakers included Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, chairman of the Alachua County Library District Governing Board; Vivian Filer, chairperson of the Alachua County Library District Board of Trustees, and Gainesville city Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls, a member of the library governing board.

Pinkoson said the Cone Park library is a prime example of the good that can be accomplished when entities cooperate. He said the library district saved lots of money that can be put into the building by not having to purchase the land, which was provided by the city.

"This is a great day for the library system," Pinkoson said. "This is a fantastic library system. Our role is not to mess it up."

Filer called the groundbreaking ceremony a milestone in the lives of the residents in east Gainesville. "There is so much in east Gainesville," Filer said, "and this is an enhancement to what was already here."

Hinson-Rawls recognized Livingston for being a "phenomenal director doing a phenomenal job. The library is the heart of the city and the county at large," she said.

Phillis Filer, administrator of public services at the library district, said the library will provide meeting space for the public, library resources, social services and recreation services. "The community is going to enjoy it," said Phillis Filer.

Nickie Kortus, marketing and public relations manager at the library district, said the new 10,000-square-foot building will include about 18 computer work stations, Wi-Fi hot spots, a dedicated eGovernment computer, a children's area with a Snuggle Up Center, a lively teen area, as well as a quiet reading room for the traditional library user, plus a much larger collection of books, CDs, videos and reference materials.

"The new facility will include a public meeting room and study and training rooms," Kortus said. "Partnership for Strong Families will bring their expanded social services and resources to this location, modeling some of the best practices from the Library Partnership Neighborhood Resource Center."

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