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story.lead_photo.caption LYNN KUTTER ENTERPRISE-LEADER The outside of the former Walmart Express building received a facelift to identify it as the Prairie Grove Library. Inside, the building had major renovations.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- Work continues inside the new Prairie Grove Public Library, with plans to open the building to the community at 9 a.m. Monday, March 18, the first day of Spring Break.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 6. The celebration will include food and games geared for children and families.

The new library is at 881 W. Buchanan St., the former Walmart Express building. Harps bought the building from Walmart and then the City Council voted to purchase it for $650,000 from Harps in December 2017.

City workers moved 66,000 items -- books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and other materials -- from the old library to the new one on Buchanan Street, according to Megan Wood, children's coordinator for the library.

Many of the books are shelved and are now being rearranged in alphabetical order. Other details are being taken care of by library workers.

From the circulation counter at the front of the building, Wood can look out and see all of the new library before her. In all, the building has 15,000 square feet.

"I think it's amazing," Wood said. "We have more room and more shelves."

At the former library, boxes of books were stored away because of lack of space for the items. The new library will have space for all books, Wood said. As time allows, staff will continue to unpack these boxes from storage and place the books on shelves for the public.

Wood is a little sad when she sees the empty buildings that once housed the children's library and public library but not for too long.

"This is such a great opportunity for us and for Prairie Grove," said Wood, who grew up in the community. "For a town the size of Prairie Grove to have a library like this and have enough items to fill this building, that's amazing."

Woods points out many amenities in the new building.

The children's area has tables and chairs, a computer section and an open space and stage for programs. What Wood likes about the children's area is that all materials are in that section, except for movies.

Shelves on the outside of the children's section have books for youth and then the library progresses to young adults and adults.

The library has two self-contained study rooms and two study cubicles. It has a conference room, an adult computer section and will have several seating areas for patrons to relax and read a book or magazine.

"We put a lot of thought into this and wanted to have a good flow throughout the building," Wood said.

Though the library will not be in the downtown area any more, Wood said the city is trying to bring a "little bit of downtown" to the library. Key elements of the downtown area will be used in decorating the building, including old photos from the historic downtown area printed on canvasses to hang from the ceiling inside the building.

Laura Hickey Kraus of Prairie Grove is painting a mural in the children's area and it shows many parts that make up the community of Prairie Grove: the historic telephone booth, Battle of Prairie Grove, historic downtown and the Prairie Grove Tigers.

One of the most important benefits of the new library, Wood said, is that all three staff members will be in one building together.

"With all of us under one roof, that makes it easier to add to our programs, not just children's programs but adult programs," she said.

Larry Oelrich, director of administrative services and public works, said the city will meet its $200,000 budget for renovating the building. Costs included new carpet, a new circulation counter and stage for the children's area, constructing walls, paint, new front entry floor, new doors and work on the outside. Landscaping still has to be completed.

"A lot of demolition had to be done, There were pipes and wires everywhere and then it all had to be fixed afterward," Oelrich said.

The library is using shelving, tables and chairs from its old place but also ordered additional equipment for the new building.

The new library is a good investment for the city, Oelrich said, noting records show Walmart bought the land for $200,000 and spent $1.4 million on construction. In contrast, if the city built a new library, costs could have been as much as $200-$250 per square feet.

"We got it for $650,000. I think we did well," Oelrich said.

The building still has the gasoline pumps and the city plans to sell those pumps and turn the area into a pavilion. Oelrich said that won't happen until the pumps are gone and money is available for remodeling the area.

General News on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: New Prairie Grove Library Prepares For Opening

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