Macksville Library continues to pursue expansion, ADA enhancements

Edward J. Naughton
St. John News
It's crowded at the Macksville Library and an addition would benefit the community in so many ways.

Over many years, the Macksville Library has managed to do a lot for the surrounding community, offering not just books for general check-out, but also educational programs like CPR classes and first-aid training. Library staff has even utilitzed outdoor programs focusing on birds, rocks, flowers, trees, hiking, pet care, dog training. For the research-inclined, library card holders, computers with internet access, and books on CD are handy for older users.

To expand on the library's little successes along the way, Macksville leaders are hoping to find funding that will pay for an addition to the current building in order to provide even more hometown help.

Head librarian Jodi Suiter and her library assistant Linda Murrow are currently in talks with B&R Builders to hopefully make this dream of a building addition real.

"Over the years we have received many grants," Suiter said. "For this year and next we are planning a babysitting education program, and multiple special outdoor programs to get kids outside."

The goal for the library right now is to somehow achieve a safe and sensibly constructed addition to their current building, without further delay, as the current situation from a practical standpoint appears dire. 

The current Macksville library is cramped with limited space available for movement. The building has an inadequate restroom with antiquated plumbing, and the lack of shelving for books has become an issue.

There have been many delays, disappointments and failed expectations in the last 10 years since this planned addition was first sought in 2011. Of course, the implications of COVID-19 came into play in 2020, causing problems for the library when the time came for possible bids to be considered, as the ever-rising cost of lumber became one of the many ripple effects of the pandemic. 

Many quilt raffles and other types of fund-raising events have come and gone, with dollars raised along the way, but nothing yet has materialized into actual construction of the hoped-for addition. series of exceptionally precise architectural plans drawn up on blueprints which Suiter keeps close at-hand. She proudly displays the blueprints upon request, professionally done by William Morris Associates in Augusta, Kansas.

A series of detailed blueprints have been drawn up and are readily displayed at the library. If enough funds are finally raised for construction to begin, Suiter said she is hopeful about the prospect of having an ADA compliant restroom, with handicap accessibility features like hand-railings, but also constructed in such a way as to provide an emergency safe space of sorts should children be present in the library at a time when shelter-in-place becomes necessary.

In case of a tornado warning, if issued on any given day by local authorities, the need to take shelter immediately becomes necessary. 

In an emergency like that, if children are present in the library, Suiter wants to be able to corral those small numbers of children into a real storm-ready safe space, one that is nicely controlled and safely constructed. On most days, this safe space it would simply serve as a clean and well-plumbed unisex restroom. 

"The library building fund was begun by Mrs. Irma Smith, who donated the current library building to the city in 1958," Suiter said. "For 10 long years we have been raising donations specifically for the building fund through memorials, donations, raffles, ongoing book sales, Giving Tuesday campaigns through the Golden Belt Community Foundation, and other fundraising efforts."

The new addition would more than double the current space available in the existing library and the building would actually become much more energy efficient.

"We have over 520 card holders, and in 2020 we held 27 programs," Suiter said. "At this time, we need $78,500 to sign on with the contractor.  An additional $13,000 would allow us to have a storm shelter in the addition, and $22,850 more would let us re-side the existing library to match the addition.  We have applied for a $25,000 matching grant through our regional library system, and are exploring other grant ideas, as well."

Current services offered at the Macksville Library include copy machine use, fax machine, internet access with several computers available, books on a variety of topics for all ages, magazines, rotating books, Spanish language titles, and audio books on cassette and CD. 

Additional services also include VHS videos, inter-library loans, and an annual book sale.

The need for shelving, furniture and other miscellaneous items will still exist once the addition itself is complete as planned depending on current and future donations. The means of obtaining these necessary items would likely be addressed by the library board.  

Suiter asked that tax-deductible donations be considered by community members and anyone interested in seeing this vision for an addition to the Macksville library become a reality.

Donations may be sent to the Macksville City Library, Box 398, Macksville, KS 67557.  Email Jodi Suiter at macksvillecitylibrary@hotmail.com for more details, or visit macksvillelibrary.com for more information and local links.