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County money kick starts library fundraising

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The main thrust of a campaign to raise money for a new Waccamaw Library won’t begin until summer, but with a $75,000 advance from Georgetown County in hand, things can finally start moving forward.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Jean Cross, who is heading up the Friends of the Waccamaw Library’s capital campaign committee. “Now, we can start this in earnest and the community can know the county is behind us 100 percent. It’s time to charge forward.”

Friends volunteers have been working quietly in the background on fundraising plans and ideas since being notified last summer that they would be tasked with raising $2.6 million toward construction of a new $6 million library. Their fundraising goal was originally $500,000.

The new two-story library will be built on 2 acres off Willbrook Boulevard as part of the county’s capital improvement plan and will be about 27,000 square feet.

The Friends have two years to come up with their portion of the construction funds. The project is slated to begin in 2013.

The $75,000 advance will fund architectural renderings and other promotional materials needed for a capital campaign, Cross said. An additional $75,000 will be issued in the next fiscal year.

Proposals have been received from four architectural firms, and the process of selecting a firm to produce drawings and models of the facility should begin next month.

The Friends also plan to hire a professional fundraising firm by the end of March, said Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County’s library director. That firm would spend the spring working to identify individuals who might be able to make large donations and getting ideas about how much those contributions might add up to.

The public will start seeing things happening with the campaign in summer, when they are asked to get involved in fundraising and give input on plans for a new library.

Donors will be asked to start committing funds in the fall, and fundraising activities, such as selling engraved bricks, will begin in the winter.

“The last part is designed to give people a sense of ownership,” McInvaill said.

He told the library board on Saturday he plans to apply for a $600,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that would benefit the Friends fundraising efforts.

“It’s a really exciting possibility for us,” McInvaill said.

He told the board he hopes a Lowcountry Cultural Center planned for the library will help secure the grant.

According to an unofficial draft building program document McInvaill prepared, the center will feature large-screen, wall-mounted monitors to display oral history interviews, along with historical images from Georgetown County, contemporary Lowcountry art, architectural sites and cultural venues. Stations will also be set up where visitors can listen to recordings of local storytellers recounting folklore and tall tales.

The center will be an important component in helping newcomers and visitors develop an understanding of the area’s history and culture, McInvaill said.

The library would also house a Friends store, auditorium, café area, children’s and young adult areas and “perhaps Georgetown County’s first escalator.”

The library board has endorsed building the new facility to meet Leadership in Energy and Design certification requirements. LEED is a green building rating system and if the library achieves one of its certification levels, it would be the first public library in the state to do so.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Friends fundraising efforts, Cross said “don’t be shy; call and let us know.”

To sign up, call Cross, 546-9293, or McInvaill, 545-3304.

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