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                So, have you ever had projects planned, and years go by, and you save, and you think, and you hope that someday, they might actually start?  Have you ever had more than one fortuitously (or not!) start at about the same time, no matter you had never, ever planned it that way?  If the answer is yes, welcome to my world!

                For those of you that drive by the Ripley library, you may see some work being done on the back of the annex. We are fortunate to now have Tim McCaughey and his crew working on overhauling the front and back of the annex (in time, the sides will just get painted).  This was a plan from early on, to improve the looks of the building. The mixed cement blocks from various windows being filled in, the chipping, barely hanging on vinyl siding, the very loose mortar in spots, the spongey wood,  the rotten ‘utility’ box…all needed replacement or improvement. This project was to have started in 2017, so while a little late, under the current contractor, we know it will be beautiful and very well built. We hope that you like it, and feel that it is in keeping with the downtown Ripley revitalization attempts.

                The even bigger news that has been waiting for 22 years, is we have finally saved enough funding to have a small expansion at the Russellville Branch library and the bids for the project are going out this week.  When it was built in 1996-97, there was, purposely, an area on the long side where an archway or large opening could be ‘blown out’ in the future for growth. If you’ve visited Russellville, you know that there is no meeting or program room, the little staff room is also a storage area, has a table that we’ve scrunched little kids in to do a craft if we can’t go outside.  The shelves, even with active weeding of the collection, are packed and overfilled… We’ve tried to have programs in the library, but it just hasn’t worked out well—people standing, people that can’t see the speaker, having a wobbly screen propped on the computer table…

Both of our other libraries have actively used program rooms, and Russellville branch is deserving of having one as well. Library focus has changed over the years—yes, we are still a depository for books, movies, magazines etc., but we are also a place for gathering to learn and communicate.   Carefully budgeting and saving some of the Public Library Fund most years (we were not able to save any during the recession years, for sure!), we have finally saved enough to begin the project. Please be assured, none of the levy money is going for this—levy money is and always will be used for operating expenses only.

What are we adding? A tidy program/meeting room and staff room, and with some re-arranging  within the original building, a little more shelving and seating.  We expect the cozy charm of our branch will remain fully  intact; we will just be able to better serve the wonderful community and patrons that have been faithful to us.  As with many of our projects to manage cost, this will be done in stages, but stay tuned!

FYI—the weather forecast on Monday for Saturday looks great for the Friends of the Library Fish Fry and Silent Auction (and raffle for the very cool water ski chair!) this Saturday from 5-7 p.m. down at the Lions Club shelter on Front Street. Please attend! Lots of fun and good food.