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Lane Library still hopes to move to Walmart site

By Emily Dangler
On February 21, 2013

After months of deliberation, members of the Oxford community cast votes in a public council session, expressing their opinion on the new location of the Oxford Lane Public Library.

Rebecca Smith, head of the Oxford Lane Library, said due to the limited size of the existing building, the library has been unable to take in new book collections or add to its community space.

The library, 15 S. College Ave., is still working to be relocated to the vacant Walmart building on Locust Street, according to Smith. Although building and renovations plans will likely not be finalized until May, the preliminary plan indicates the new Lane Library would use half of the available 50,000 square feet of the old Walmart property after the old building is torn down.

Alan Kyger, Oxford's economic development director, said the property's developer has been attempting to repurpose the lot since 2006.

"People seemed to favor the Walmart site because it was the closest option, on state Route 27 and near other retail ... people liked the idea that the old [Walmart] building would finally be used," Kyger said.

Kyger said that until the library's recent interest in using the space for its expansion project, the Walmart property developer has been unable to find enough interest from commercial and retail investors to fill the entire 50,000 square feet of empty space.

Smith said she believes that the old Walmart property will be the perfect new location for the building project.

Smith said one of the benefits of the property plan is that it will be a mixed-usage development, which will help to attract a larger variety of people to the library. Although the current library location Uptown lends itself to being at the center of Oxford and Miami University activity, both Smith and Kyger said the development plans will attract many students to the library's new location because of its proximity to the businesses, restaurants and residential apartments that will be built near the library.

Junior Shruti Nanda said she was interested in the plans for the new library because she has never used the Oxford's public library before.

"I have walked by and thought of using the library but I have never actually used it," Nanda said. "I used to read a lot of new books before I came to college."

Smith said that she hopes the new library will attract more college students to use the improved resources that the library will offer.

According to Smith the larger space will allow the library to provide more free services, such as free WiFi, a larger collection of e-readers and computers, more study spaces and larger community meeting rooms.

The library needs to expand because of its constantly growing collection on local and regional history, according to Smith. With a larger building, the library will be able to accept more documents for this special collection, free for the public's use.

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