The following information is a news release:
The Beverly J. Brown Library in Byram is closing on January 31, 2016 in order to allow the access roads from Siwell Road to the new Walmart store to be constructed and opened. The library property is jointly owned by the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and the Hinds County School Board. The two Walmart access roads will run close to three sides of the library building. The library system was recently told that one of the roads will be taking most of the current parking spaces that extend beyond the building. The Jackson Hinds Board of Trustees voted to close the branch at a recent meeting after finding out that the new access roads could create a safety hazard to library customers trying to cross through traffic to access the library. Executive Director Patty Furr comments, “With a great deal of our parking lot being taken by the new access roads for Walmart and the heavy traffic that is expected to turn off Siwell Road into the new Walmart store, leaving the library open would create a very dangerous situation. Our library patrons would then find it difficult to turn back onto Siwell Road from the library parking lot, and most would no longer be able to find a space in our lot, as parking is already very tight. We don’t want to see anyone trying to park along the sides of the new access roads or in the Walmart parking lot and then try to cross through heavy traffic to get to the old library building. We certainly do not want to see someone hurt or risking their life to check out a book or come to a Summer Reading Program with a carload of children.”
For the past several months, Furr has been actively looking for a commercial location to house a temporary library, but with little success. With all of the new Walmart and other businesses coming to town, commercial rental space is very tight in Byram. “The community of Byram is growing, and real estate seems to be in a real boom market. We looked at many different rental spaces, but we could not find one that would make a good temporary library for the 80,000+ library customers that accessed the building last year. Most were either too small for a library or had rental terms that would not fit with the way a public library operates. We even looked at setting up a temporary trailer library next to the fire station on Byram Parkway on a piece of property that the City of Byram offered to let us use. When we counted up the cost of putting in a gravel parking lot, concrete pad for the trailer, ADA handicapped ramps, computer and electrical cabling, a security system and special bracing to allow the trailer to bear the weight of library books, the costs were astronomical—close to $60,000 just to get a classroom trailer with a very limited amount of space. At the end of the project we would have been left with a tiny, cramped space that no one would have liked for a considerable investment of money.” The Library Board of Trustees instead recently voted to recommend to the County Board of Supervisors that they sign a lease with a local investor who is willing to build a 5000 square foot building on a lot on Byram Parkway. Furr comments, “We have an individual who is willing to build a new library facility for Byram which would have a meeting room, children’s library, teen computer area and even an attractive outside patio. Best of all, the building would have much more space dedicated to public access computers connected to the new fiber optic WAN system with state-of-the-art internet services for both the public access computers and customers using high-speed WIFI. The building could be ready for occupancy in 10-12 months. Furr adds, “We are dependent upon the County Board to act, as libraries are not allowed to own property by Mississippi law, and we must depend on our funding authorities to provide a building for us. After looking at all of the options, this new leased library seems to make the most sense for the growing population of Byram.”
The new library will be designed with an option to be enlarged to 7000 square feet if the community keeps growing in future years, and the entrances and exits from the parking lot would make coming to the library and parking an easy and very safe experience. Furr concludes, “We hope that we have the chance to watch this new building be constructed and to give our Byram customers a 21st Century library for everyone to enjoy.” In the meantime, the library system is scouting around to find a suitable place for the library book drop to make it a little easier for Byram customers to return books checked out from other branches in the system.