New library in ‘middle of community’

New library in ‘middle of community’

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“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.” —Caitlin Moran, English journalist, author and broadcaster

Orangeburg County is taking an important step in building a new library in the “middle of a community,” where it will serve as a centerpiece of revitalization at Orangeburg’s Railroad Corner.

Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said the $8.5 million facility being paid for with funds from the Capital Project Sales Tax and Capital Improvement Fund will be “a game-changer for our community, and this will be something that will help generations of people get educated for years to come.”

County and city officials broke ground on the library/conference center on Monday at the site of the former Piggly Wiggly supermarket on Russell Street. In less than two years, the new facility will be a reality.

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And if you think this library will be just a place for books, think again. This will be a modern facility incorporating technology that is a mainstay of learning for young people.

At Monday’s groundbreaking, Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, “This is an exciting time in the history of Orangeburg to build a library such as this that will move us into the digital age.”

The existing library on Louis Street is about 22,000 square feet. The new one will be about 50,000 square feet.

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In addition to providing more room for the 127,000 items in the library’s collection, the new location will also have additional space for gatherings, including for up to 200 people.

A fenced-in outside space that visitors can access through the library’s entrance is planned. There will be outside seating for reading and playground equipment for children.

The library will also feature an outside amphitheater with tiered seating and green space for sitting.

Orangeburg County Library Director Anna T. Zacherl praised the efforts of the county to improve the lives of its citizens.

“Orangeburg County has been on a steady upswing with a renewed vigor to answer the call of its citizens, to excel at every measurable indicator of a community’s wellbeing,” Zacherl said.

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Placing the new library in downtown Orangeburg near the campuses of South Carolina State and Claflin universities will give it the highest of profiles in the “middle of a community,” where the library belongs.

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