After research by the Library Advisory Board special committee, Villa Rica officials are considering the purchase of a high visibility, vacant space that was renovated in 2008. It would be twice as large as the current facility and lend itself to some expansion in the future.
“We are in dire straits at the Villa Rica Public Library. We’re in desperate need of a larger facility,” said Clint Chance, a member of both the Villa Rica Library Advisory Board and the West Georgia Regional Library System Board.
“It is our belief that making this library work at the location we’re looking at would be about one-fourth of the cost than if we tried to purchase some land, build it, landscape it, plumb it and all of the other things we’d have to do. It’s just really amazing the savings we’d have, if you sit down and look at the numbers, and what a great opportunity we feel that this would be.”
When broken down to square footage, the Villa Rica Public Library is considered the busiest of all 17 branches in the West Georgia Regional Library System, which encompasses libraries in Carroll, Douglas, Haralson, Heard and Paulding counties. There are more than 115,000 patrons visiting annually in a facility that is 5,000 square feet and 20 years old, according to Chance.
Only two libraries in the system are smaller than Villa Rica’s building — Mt. Zion and Whitesburg — and it has twice the number of patrons as the other three 5,000-square-foot libraries in the regional system.
“The city’s population has more than doubled (since the current facility opened in 1992), but the demand for the library has tripled and quadrupled in terms of patronage and circulation,” Chance said.
West Georgia Regional Library System Director Roni Tewksbury, who has been involved with the library in Villa Rica since 1983, agrees that the city is in dire need of a new facility that is much larger and would accommodate the city’s growth.
“That facility is 20 years old,” she said. “They have outgrown that building. Eight years ago they had already outgrown it. That building was perfect for them 20 years ago, but look how much the city has grown and the library has grown with it. It’s just that the available space hasn’t grown. This is the best opportunity we have right now.”
West Georgia Regional Library System has applied to the state the last three years for grant funds to build a new library in Villa Rica. But due to little available state funding the city has dropped from the top 10 in terms of priority to 25th overall of those who have applied, and the outlook for funding in future years doesn’t look any more bright.
The city has about $650,000 in available funds from two separate SPLOST referendums to use for the library, though a small amount of additional funds might be available from other sources, if necessary.
If the library is able to acquire the building it is considering or finds an alternative, the West Georgia Regional Library System has shown interest in possibly moving from the Neva Lomason Memorial Library in Carrollton to the current Villa Rica facility on Horace Luther Drive to be more centrally located among its five member counties.
“It’s a possibility that we’re looking at doing something like that,” Tewksbury said. “We’re looking into possibly relocating the administrative offices to a more centrally located area of our region. When the library system first started it was just Carroll County and Heard County so Carrollton was kind of in the middle of that, but as we grew and got Douglas County, Haralson County and Paulding County into it, the center of that came closer to being in Villa Rica.”