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Director: Committed to Pratt Library renovation

  • File photo/Pratt Library

It’s a fixture in the Ridgeland community. It’s been a schoolhouse, a museum and a library. It’s been there for generations of students, readers and researchers, a place of work and enjoyment.

It is 451A Wilson St., a historical building that now houses Pratt Memorial Library. Each year, thousands of people visit the location to borrow books and movies, spend time on the computer or attend a Summer Reading program with their children.

Though the building is both historical and beautiful, it is in need of restoration and refurbishment. The building has a good amount of space for library use, but the present configuration doesn’t allow for easy access to resources.

The Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library, of which Pratt is a part, and Friends of Pratt Memorial Library have committed to begin a process that will renovate and renew the library building so that resources inside can better meet the needs and wants of the community.

Though identifying those needs and wants, and refining a plan for the building that will meet them, is just beginning, there are several elements that everyone agrees the library should have.

The ever-growing need for technology will mean more clearly defined spaces for public computers. A computer lab will be present and a creation lab might well be another element of the library.

Areas would, of course, be created to welcome adults and children, but additional areas would be added to address teen library use. Additionally, areas will also be developed for cross-generational use. Collections would also reflect these purposes, with books and other materials being provided for toddlers, grandparents raising their grandchildren, young adults looking for their first jobs and much, much more.

The inside of the building will be reconfigured to better flow with the outside. Those who have visited the grounds know that the town of Ridgeland has renovated the park behind the library into an awesome area of activity and gathering.

As part of that effort, barriers that previously blocked park users from visiting the library are gone. As part of a renovation project, the building would be redone in way to allow access from both ends. Children who attended a library program could then visit the park; adults who were getting their daily exercise could stop by the library for their weekly reading material.

Libraries are changing to meet the needs of the 21st century. This project will assure that all libraries in Jasper County are ready to meet those needs and provide for the best service possible to the community.

You can be part of the process for a new Pratt Library by joining Friends of Pratt Memorial Library. For information on how to do so, stop by the Pratt Library or call 843-726-7744.

For more information on the library system, contact me at 803-584-3513 or at ahjstrawn@gmail.com.

Scott Strawn is director of the Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library.

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