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Lane Library looks to expand

By Ashley VanBuskirk
On November 29, 2012

The staff of the Oxford branch of Lane Public Libraries, 15 S. College Ave., announced plans to expand the facilities in a recent informational meeting for the public Nov. 12. The plans have been in the works for the past 10 months, according to Branch Manager Rebecca Smith.

"We're out of space here," said Smith. "We've outgrown this space both in terms of our collections, but also in terms of parking, which has become an increased issue."

The potential location of the new building would be across the street from Kroger, in place of the old Wal-Mart building, according to Smith.

Smith said the Library invited the public to give its preference for the location of the expansion at the informational meeting. Several locations were being considered for the expansion, such as the old Talawanda High School building as well as the old Wal-Mart site. After presenting a few locations, Smith said they questioned the community members at the meeting on their choice of location.

"We asked for feedback from the community and there was a strong preference for the Wal-Mart site," Smith said.

At the current location there are only 15 parking spaces but the potential expansion will provide 100 parking spaces. The new building will also be 25,000 square feet of new space, compared to 13,000 square feet at the current location.

The Oxford branch is in need of additional room in the library for the growing number of patrons, according to Smith. The library recently installed a system which records the number of library patrons as they enter the building every day. Within the second week of November the library had a total of 5,347 patrons

Patrons vary from community members who come to read the newspaper, or Miami University students who are looking for a quieter place to study than King Library, Smith said.

Smith noted that the branch's special reference library, the Smith Library of Regional History, especially needs expansion. The reference library consists of primary resources on the history of Oxford and the surrounding area of Southwest Ohio.

The collection continues to grow, with new material constantly coming into the library, according to Valerie Elliott, manager of the Smith Library. Elliott said they have had to remove seating from their section of the library to accommodate the new material. With the new expansion, they hope to expand their hours, the workspace and the materials available for library patrons.

"The Smith Library users, workers and the collections deserve an adequate space," Elliott said. "The hope is that the new space will provide that."

Presenting these plans to the Lane Library Board of Trustees is the next step in the process to expand. This will take place Dec. 10, at the Board of Trustees meeting for the Library.

Funding for the new expansion is expected to come from gifts designated for the Oxford branch as well as funds from the capital and building maintenance fund, which consists of state funding provided by the government.

The current budget for the development is $7.5 million. The Library plans to collaborate with a developer who plans on constructing new student housing and a new commercial space at the old Wal-Mart site, according to Smith.

The developer, Robert Fiorita, plans on tearing down the existing building and completely re-building the space. The project, according to Smith, has already been approved by the city of Oxford.

This new facility will better serve the local community as well as Miami students, according to senior Sara Lindsey, who visits the library occasionally for leisure reading.

"I think it's easier to find a greater selection of fiction," Lindsey said. "King Library can be a little intimidating if you're just looking for fiction and there's so many books it can be hard to find," Lindsey said.

The Library has multiple resources that are specifically useful to Miami students, according to Smith. The library has subscriptions to databases such as Zinio, which allows library members to download free subscriptions to popular magazines.

Subscriptions vary from magazines such as Elle and Marie Claire to more news-focused magazines such as Newsweek and The Economist. Another subscriptions that the Library holds is for a website called Freegal, which provides members three free music downloads a week from their database of almost three million songs. Both of these services are offered to the public from the Library.

The Oxford branch is open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

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