Bobbie Morgan’s dream is starting to become more of a reality as the director of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System is watching, what was once a blue print library, take formation right before her very eyes.
“The new library is coming along very nicely,” said Morgan. “All of the rooms have taken shape and are in the process of painting the interior.”
In October of 2018 several library and city official broke ground at the site of the new library at Sixth Avenue and Main Street in downtown Pine Bluff. A few years later stands a windowed structured with stained concrete floors and freshly painted walls.
Though the slate date to open was set for spring 2020 during the ground-breaking ceremony, the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on activity.
“We are having problems with the projected date of completion because of the virus,” said Morgan. “We are having problems with supplies coming in because basically the country has shut down.”
Morgan adds with over 1/3 of rainy days this year, construction has had to wait a day or two for the ground to dry out in order to continue.
Morgan hopes the 32,000 square-foot downtown library will be complete by mid-Summer. The library will offer up-to-date technology and amenities for the entire family.
The library will have two main entrances according to Morgan. Upon entrance you will be greeted by the circulation desk. A lounging area nearby will house vending machines to give the library a bookstore feel.
“We’re getting tables right now and will have some rocking chairs up there as a nice pleasant place for people to sit,” said Morgan. “We’ll have magazines and our book sales. You can eat and enjoy a magazine, newspaper or something to read.”
Inside the oval entrance will be the restrooms and as you walk through the doors on your left, Morgan says will be a DVD and fiction area. Further back will be the nonfiction books.
A rare book room and the genealogy department will be located on the second story of the library.
“You’ll have a large genealogy department where rare books are and a workroom for genealogist to process different books and microfilm,” said Morgan. “The administration offices and staff kitchen will be located behind the genealogy department.”
Across the bridge on the second floor will be the children’s department.
“We have a workroom built in for the children’s area,” said Morgan. “We have a large area which we have some new shelving and on the left as you’re walking through the children’s area, you’ll see two blocks.”
Morgan says one of those areas will be the children’s librarian office and the other will be a room for children to work on building and social skills by playing and building with blocks.
Also on the second floor will be story steps, an area where program can be held while attendees sit on step-like seating.
“The kids can have programs there, sit, read and play with their tablets and laptops,” said Morgan. “We can have programs there with the presenter at the bottom of the steps.”
The library will consist of two computer labs. One will be a training lab and the other will a computer space for the general public.
“The computer training lab will have Mac computers with software to teach different music and graphic programs. If someone wanted to develop a video of themselves, write music and design webpages, this sophisticated software that people can’t afford to buy, they will be able to access it,” said Morgan.
Morgan adds the computer lab will be used as normally used.
“People can come in and use the lab for business,” said Morgan. “We have people who come in who are doing job resumes and job searching. Other people come in to play games.”
Morgan said a recording studio will be available to those who complete training and would like to utilize what they’ve learned.
More steps alongside the story steps will take you to a glass-enclosed Teen Loft.
“This will be the first time we have a special area just for the teens. They will have their own special computers, a gaming area, space for their books and materials and an area for them to be able to sit and study,” said Moore. “Our intention is to have that area for teens because right now our children’s area goes all the way up to 18. “
As the new library nears completion, Moore said library services are still being offered at the old location at
While physical closed to patrons, the library still offers a wealth of digital content for those who have internet access. Curbside service is also offered to those who still love to turn the pages of a book.
By calling 870-534-4802 you can call to request a book title for pickup. A library associate will call you back when your books are ready for pickup.
“We will bring them out to you and place them on a table at the front door,” said Moore.
The service is provided Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Governor Asa Hutchinson recently issued a proclamation naming April 19 -25 as National Library Week in Arkansas.
"This is a fitting time to remind the citizens of Arkansas of the essential services and programs that are provided by libraries of all types - academic, school, public and special," said Carolyn Ashcraft, state librarian. "Many libraries are closed at this time, some are providing limited services, and some are open. Whatever the situation, the work libraries do and the resources they provide - whether on site or remotely -- are critical to the well-being of all."
As the impact of the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve and change the work of libraries and library workers, libraries are proving resourceful and resilient, serving as a rich pipeline for content, delivering access to eBooks, movies, music, video games, virtual story times and activities, and so much more according to a release from the state library.