Twiggs County to celebrate opening of new library

pramati@macon.comNovember 4, 2013 

JEFFERSONVILLE -- For months, Skip Disbennett has heard the same question over and over.

“Everybody keeps asking me, ‘When’s it going to open? When’s it going to open?’ ” said Disbennett, the director of Twiggs County’s brand new library. “When people have walked in, they think they are in Atlanta.”

New carpeting, long shelves of books and plenty of computers fill the library, which has its grand opening at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Georgia first lady Sandra Deal is set to help cut the ribbon of the new 6,700-square-foot facility. Deal also will read to local children from one of the books written by famed Allman Brothers Band keyboardist Chuck Leavell.

Twiggs County has needed a library ever since the county’s sole library was destroyed by fire from a lightning strike in April 2010. For the past couple of years, county residents have used the temporary library inside a tiny empty storefront, which was only able to offer a fraction of the resources of the new library, a block away from the original.

Thomas Jones, director of libraries for the Middle Georgia Regional Library System, said the Twiggs County facility will offer the same services and resources offered in Macon: the Pines catalogue, the Galileo database, e-books and computer classes, as well as free public Wi-Fi and public computers.

“It will (eventually) hold 20,000 books,” Jones said. “Right now, it’s about half that. We’ll have 10 computers in our training lab and replicate here the classes we are now teaching in Macon.”

Jones said the Twiggs County library will offer everything available to any of the other libraries in the six counties that comprise the Middle Georgia Regional Library System.

When the original library burned, among the losses were a number of historical documents and books. Jones said his staff has worked diligently to replace many of them to give the public access to that information.

Jones said the construction cost was $1.29 million. The costs were paid for with $650,000 in insurance money paid out for the old library, plus $1.15 million in funding from the state in the fiscal 2011 budget. The money left over will go back into the library.

“The governor put the construction in the budget,” he said. “This was the only library construction in the budget.”

Jones credited the efforts of state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, and the late state Sen. Robert Brown, D-Macon, with helping to get the state funding.

“It’s going to serve the county well,” Epps said. “There’s going to be a lot of technology (for the public). There’s a lot of good people who work there. ... It will be a good arts and culture center as well as a library.”

June Odom, 77, of Jeffersonville, said she fills up “a whole bag” with books from the library each week. She said she was there when the original library was built and is eager to take part in the computer classes offered in the new one.

“It’s wonderful,” she said of the new building. “It’s beautiful. ... I was there when they built the first one, and I thought that was great, but with this one, they’ve outdone everything.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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