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Springdale Public Library announces $1.1 million expansion

The outdoor courtyard at the Springdale Public Library that will be enclosed to expand the children's section and provide event space.
Jack Travis
The outdoor courtyard at the Springdale Public Library that will be enclosed to expand the children's section and provide event space.

The Springdale Public Library is about to undergo a considerable expansion.

Last month, officials announced the library will receive a $1.1 million renovation enclosing the facility’s outdoor courtyard. The new space will expand the adjacent children’s section and allow for more programming and events to take place.

Anne Gresham is the director of the library and said she is excited about the opportunities the new area will bring to library patrons:

“The primary purpose will be for larger events. We will be focusing on children's services. But there are other possibilities out here as well. We would be able to do things like provide banquet seating, or have larger receptions, things like that. And I'm also really excited about some new possibilities this would open for us, I'm really interested in providing some kind of cooking class or any kind of STEAM or robotics-based learning, this would be a great space for that to our plans including a lot of storage so that we have maximum flexibility for how we use the space.”

Previously, the library held events in the children’s DVD section- You heard me right- forcing staff members to move large crates filled with discs to make room for programming.

Additionally, Gresham said the weather has prevented the library from utilizing the outdoor space to its full potential.

“Right now we have this outdoor courtyard space, which is essentially a concrete block that heats up pretty significantly during the summer. Rain events are difficult to deal with. We've tried putting tents over it to use it as an outdoor programming space. But we haven't had a whole lot of success with it. There are too many variables with the elements. And it's just not a very comfortable space- however- we will enclose this area. And what that's going to do is add an additional 3000 square feet of programming space to the library.”

Gresham said it’s been a while since the library received a physical update. The last renovation occurred from 1999 to 2000, and it more than doubled the size of the facility to 43,000 square feet.

Since that last renovation, Springdale has grown a lot, too. In 2010, the population sat at just below 70,000 residents. Jump forward ten years, and the population increased to more than 84,000 people. The most recent Census data from 2022 points to over 87,000 people who call Springdale their home.

Of those residents, more than 1,500 people visit the Springdale Public Library every day. Gresham said the library is a community space and should grow alongside the town it serves.

“I feel like the library really just walks hand in hand with any kind of social change. As Springdale has grown. We've seen that here. One of the most exciting things that I've seen here in Springdale is just the development of such a vibrant multicultural society here. I love coming into work and hearing at least three languages being spoken at any given time. And finding ways to meet the needs of a community like that is exciting, and it feels like meaningful work that we're all honored to do.”

She said the library is positioned to serve people in more ways than most public spaces.

“I think the library is kind of a unique institution. We are a community space, and anybody can come in. There is no pressure to buy anything, there's no pressure to disclose your reason for being here even you can come to the library and exist as a member of this community and have a larger space to do that I think just helps us with our mission.”

Construction will begin in August. Gresham said they chose that time because summer is a busy season for patrons and staff. Funding will come from the library’s endowment and Springdale’s general city fund.

More information about the Springdale Public Library and the upcoming project.

Ozarks at Large transcripts are created on a rush deadline by reporters. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of KUAF programming is the audio record.

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Jack Travis is a reporter for <i>Ozarks at Large</i>.<br/>
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