Happy mood resounds at library groundbreaking

City officials shoveling at the groundbreaking ceremony for Madison Public Library were District 5 Councilman Tommy Overcash, from left, Mayor Troy Trulock, library branch manager Sarah Sledge, District 6 Councilman Gerald Clark, City Council President Tim Holcombe, District 7 Councilwoman Ronica Ondocsin and District 3 Councilman D.J. Klein. CONTRIBUTED
City officials shoveling at the groundbreaking ceremony for Madison Public Library were District 5 Councilman Tommy Overcash, from left, Mayor Troy Trulock, library branch manager Sarah Sledge, District 6 Councilman Gerald Clark, City Council President Tim Holcombe, District 7 Councilwoman Ronica Ondocsin and District 3 Councilman D.J. Klein. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – The audience attending the groundbreaking ceremony for Madison Public Library’s new facility was a cross-section of library patrons.
Pre-schoolers. Elderly individuals in wheelchairs. Teenagers. Business leaders with suit coats draped over their arms in record-setting November heat. Stay-at-home moms with toddlers. Retired citizens. Politicians. Young couples.
Smiling at the thought of their new library, the crowd quieted as Pam Honeycutt, Executive Director of Madison Chamber of Commerce, opened the ceremony. “Who answered 49,000 reference questions in 2015?” Honeycutt said. “Madison Public Library downloaded 2.7 trillion bytes of information.”
Tommy Overcash, District 5 City Councilman, said Madison citizens always have supported its library, even when it was a small storefront in Hughes Plaza on Hughes Road.
“Marc Jacobson led the work for both a new library and a new school system in the 1990s” Overcash said. “The (current) library now is almost 20 years old and too small for a city of 50,000.”
The new library will have 25,000 square feet, compared to 15,000 currently.
Overcash commended coordination by District 7 Councilwoman Ronica Ondocsin for leading the building project and joining library and city staff in scheduling the project in a professional manner.
Ondocsin said initial planning started in 2013 with a library consultant who met with residents in town hall meetings to learn their ‘wish list’ for features. “In 2014, we hired Turner Construction as construction manager,” Ondocsin said. “We hired the architect in 2015, and today we’re breaking ground.”
Sarah Sledge, Branch Manager of Madison Public Library, said she was humbled to represent Huntsville-Madison County Public Library at the event. She thanked the library’s board and philanthropic foundation for its help.
Highlighting the new facilities improvements, Sledge said a “flexible meeting room will hold up to 250 people and be accessible at night. We’ll have quiet rooms for study and reading, but we’ll space for children and teens” that will be loud and dynamic.
The new library will have many new or improved amenities:
* An open, bookstore-style floor plan for easy browsing.
* Art gallery featuring rotating collections.
* Expanded Friends of the Library Bookstore.
* Indoor fireplace for cozy reading.
* Large outdoor screen for movie screenings, presentations and other events.
* Natural outdoor amphitheater.
* New state-of-the-art technology for printing, researching and reference work.
* Family bathroom facilities.
The City of Madison has committed to an $8.5-million bond. Estimated cost is $10.2 million, leaving a $1.7 million gap. Redstone Federal Credit Union donated $833,333, leaving a balance of $1 million in community fundraising. Interested donors can email Susan Markham, director of institutional advancement, at smarkham@hmcpl.org.

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