So, what is up with the Kanawha County Public Library's plan to build a new main branch downtown? It seems like it has been taking an awful long time.
It has been six years since the library launched a campaign to raise $37 million for a new main branch, specifically built for all the human and electronic accommodations people expect from libraries these days.
The library has raised about $250,000 this year, bringing the total to $18.4 million, said Library Director Alan Engelbert.
"The private fundraising has slowed," Engelbert acknowledges. The difficult economy is a drag. So is the Kanawha County Board of Education's lawsuit, an effort by the school board to get control of much of the library's day-to-day operating money.
"It is 40 percent of our budget. People are honestly concerned about that," Engelbert said.
Public contributions have also stalled. The Kanawha County Commission pledged $1 million, and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito secured $237,000 in federal money. But the city of Charleston and the state have not pledged any help.
There is no reason to give up, Engelbert said. It is, however, time to rethink, again.
Plans for the building were first drawn in 2002. That includes projections for how people will use the space and what we will need. The building was scaled down once, both to reduce cost and to make more efficient use of land as it became available on Leon Sullivan Way near the Clay Center.
But the other part of the plan, what's on the inside -- "that's a decade old," Engelbert said. The way people use libraries continues to change. So next month, the library board may ask an architect to re-evaluate.