Little Rock developer and Jefferson Square owner Lou Schickel has offered to donate a two-acre site at the shopping mall to the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System for proposed construction of a new, one-story main branch that would replace its current three-story civic center location.

Little Rock developer and Jefferson Square owner Lou Schickel has offered to donate a two-acre site at the shopping mall to the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System for proposed construction of a new, one-story main branch that would replace its current three-story civic center location.


The library’s board of trustees learned of the offer during a Thursday afternoon meeting. Trustee Ann Talbot, a member of an ad hoc committee charged with studying the library’s future location possibilities, announced the development and said the acreage would support a 35,000-square-foot facility. The present library counts 37,000 square feet.


Talbot expressed pleasure in the potential relocation to the Olive Street mall.


"We want to be a part of the community," she said. "This way, we would go to the community."


Several trustees agreed that the main branch’s civic center location is somewhat isolated. It’s generally believed that an Olive Street site would provide superb visibility with greatly increased vehicle traffic. In its proposed location between a Simmons First National Bank branch and a McDonald’s restaurant, the new library would be fronted by Olive Street.


The board unanimously approved the formation of an exploratory panel to determine costs and other particulars on such a project. Library Director Michael Sawyer said the process of constructing a new facility would likely require up to four years and include millage and bond issues to be put before voters.


Exploratory committee members are to schedule a meeting with Schickel, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, Jefferson County Judge Dutch King and other officials. The group would help to determine if the relocation idea is feasible.


"I know the mayor is backing us whatever we decide," said Talbot.


The ad hoc committee has also been considering the options of remodeling the current library or moving to another existing building.