More than two years after it closed, the future of the Charles Tisdale Library remains up in the air.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba recently told city council members during a budget meeting that there is a potential buyer for the E. Northside Drive facility.
However, even if the building is sold, the proceeds from the transaction likely would not be enough to purchase or lease a new facility for the branch.
Meanwhile, the patrons of Tisdale have to travel to other branches to take advantage of the services.
Lumumba said the city is looking into selling the facility.
“We are working on that right now. What we are trying to do is work through the legal restraints as (to) how we transfer it,” he said. “We have to smooth that over to sell the building.”
The mayor said a potential buyer is interested but would not say who.
Several city council members expressed frustration with what they believe has been a lack of progress in getting the branch reopened.
“I’m sick of dealing with Tisdale. I’m really sick of dealing with Eudora Welty,” said Ward Two Councilman Melvin Priester. “I just want to be done dealing with those two.”
Priester was also referring to the Welty library, the flagship of the Jackson-Hinds Library System, which has been reduced to one floor per orders of the State Fire Marshal.
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote echoed similar sentiments, saying the council has brought up the libraries on several occasions, only to be told by the administration that “we’re looking at it.”
“It’s a paralysis of analysis,” he said. “It’s one of the most frustrating things we’re dealing with.”
Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine cautioned that even if the building is sold, it might not generate enough money to relocate or restock the branch.
“From the early conversations, the sale of the building would not accommodate a full-scale move,” he said, adding that the city had still not determined the total costs for relocating and restocking the library.
The Tisdale branch was closed in April 2017 due to storm damage and black mold. A heavy storm ripped across the Northside that month, causing the library’s basement to flood. That flooding, in turn, exacerbated a pre-existing black mold problem.
Because of the mold Jackson-Hinds Executive Director Patty Furr closed the branch. After repeated requests Furr refuse to discuss the matter with the Sun.
Since then, continued flooding there has caused the black mold problem to grow worse, even to the point where it has infected the branch’s 34,000 books.
Prior to its closure, Tisdale averaged around 60,000 visitors a year. The branch was popular with children from nearby schools, who would take advantage of the facility to study, do homework and do class assignments on branch computers.
The library is located within walking distance of Chastain Middle School, McWillie Elementary, Smilow Prep and the Redeemer School.
The next closest option for those students is the Willie Morris Library, located at 4912 Old Canton Rd.