Willie Morris Library list of improvements could be funded by Hinds County

By ANTHONY WARREN,

New books and better parking could soon be on tap for the Willie Morris Library.

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors is considering allocating between $200,000 and $300,000 for improvements at the Northeast Jackson branch.

The funds would be used for various upgrades, including updating the library’s book collections, adding new computers, improving the branch’s meeting room and repaving and restriping the parking lot.

“The money to do the parking lot has been approved. The other money I want to spend I will be asking for at the (board) meeting on August 20,” said District One Supervisor Robert Graham.

Graham is recommending the improvements after meeting with officials from the Jackson-Hinds Library System and the Jackson Friends of the Library.

Other items included on the wish list include replacing many books in the library’s children’s section, installing blinds, a projector and sound system in the meeting room, purchasing laptops for patron use at the branch, adding handicapped-accessible doors, adding a teen area and installing shading and French drains outside.

The wish list also includes installing hot and cold water in a new kitchen area that is already being installed in the meeting room.

Jackson-Hinds Executive Director Patty Furr is excited about the funds.

“We recently addressed the leaking roof. We still have one tiny leak we’re trying to resolve,” Furr said. “We do have some rotting soffits outside. We need to figure out why those are rotting and need to get them addressed.” 

The expenditures would be the first major investments in the Morris branch since it opened in 2006.

Furr is planning to host a public meeting at the library to get input on what patrons would like to see at the library. The meeting had not been set at press time. Check the Northside Sun’s Web site for more information.

Last year, the library logged nearly 74,000 visitors, who checked out more than 46,000 items.

One of the most popular features at Morris is the branch’s children’s section, which provides a large number of school-required summer reading books. 

“The children’s books are plain worn out. They’re like the ‘Velveteen Rabbit.’ They’ve been loved to death,” Furr said.

 

Furr is asking for about $25,000, which would replace a portion of the branch’s children’s titles. That amount includes the purchase of the books, as well as lamination costs. Laminating the books is needed to ensure they have a longer life once they’re put on the shelves. 

She expects a new teen center would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 and is needed to help the Morris branch better meet the needs of the under-served teen demographic. 

 “When they visit the Morris branch, there’s no place for them. They don’t belong in the children’s section and they don’t belong in the adult section,” she said. “Providing a place where teens can come, get on the computer, and do homework with their friends tells those kids they’re important.”

The teen section would include new computers, specifically for teen use, as well as new tables and chairs and new titles geared toward young adults.

“We would like to provide Manga books and graphic novels – every teen that comes in is asking for those,” she said. “We don’t have many in our system. We’ve never been able to get many. So having more would be a wonderful thing.’

The wish list was given to Graham recently. He said he would get as many of the projects approved as possible.

Funding to repave and re-stripe the parking lot was previously approved.

Graham said work on that will get under way once the city signs off on an interlocal agreement allowing it.

The agreement is needed because the Morris branch is owned by the city of Jackson.

Graham said the agreement had been submitted to the city but had not been signed off by Jackson officials at press time.

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