ELLERBE — This small town is taking a somewhat Shakespearean approach to building the free-standing library it wants. It’s coming, in the words of the Bard, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”
Definitely. If the plans meet muster. And there’s enough money.
“It’s definitely going to move (within) the next 12 months,” Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry said Wednesday. “We’re really trying to get together what we’re trying to do.”
The problem is, Berry said, that “anybody’s plans are greater than our budget.”
Ellerbe’s Rankin Museum of American Heritage has been itching to expand into the end of the building it shares with the local library at the corner of Second and Church streets.
And the library, formally known as the Kemp-Sugg Memorial Library, has been itching to move into its own space.
It even has a building to go to. The town purchased an abandoned redbrick structure that formerly housed Fidelity Bank. At the moment, the only person who uses the structure is the commuter who parks his pickup in front of it five days a week, before sharing a ride.
Sharon Hearne was Ellerbe’s librarian before a recent move to a supervisory role at the main county branch, Leath Memorial Library. In October, Hearne said she thought the town would begin planning its new building by the end of that month.
But Mayor Berry says now that things are more iffy but no less sanguine.
“How we remodel the facility depends on the budget,” Berry said, declining to specify how big that budget is. He said it included grant money awarded awhile ago but never used.
“We’ve got some money set aside (and) we’ll try to stick to that budget,” he said. “We’re just waiting to see how everybody falls into the prices of doing some remodeling for us.” That is, any plan will depend on the bids the town receives for the project.
Within weeks, the town will ask contractors to look at the building, to see whether it’s feasible to tear down walls to create more open space for shelving, Berry said. He has requested architectural drawings for the bank in order to see what’s possible but has yet to receive them.
The town also wants to turn a 20-by-30-foot drive-thru unit into a computer room and beautify the landscaping around the building and parking lot, but, you know: financing.
“We’re not going to start and run out of money,” Berry said. “I’d rather not start at all.”
Several weeks ago, the town council removed several thousand dollars from its library budget only to put it back during the next monthly meeting.
“It was very personal to me,” current librarian Ashley Scott said, happy that the issue was solved expeditiously. “If they had taken it out, it would have taken the library down to 19 hours” instead of the 32 it now stays open. And, she said, she would have lost some benefits.
Scott receives half of her salary from the library system and half from the town, she said.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.