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Waccamaw Library: New plans develop in time for groundbreaking

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The county library director, Dwight McInvaill, says the Waccamaw Neck will get part of its dream library in plans that will be unveiled Friday at a groundbreaking ceremony at Willbrook Boulevard next to the Midway Fire and Rescue station.

The $3.2 million facility will have a multi-purpose auditorium with seating for 182 people to meet the growing demands of the Waccamaw Neck, McInvaill said.

An auditorium and kitchen, along with some other amenities and technology, were proposed as a $2.8 million addition to the original plans with money from a proposed 1-cent sales tax. Voters defeated the referendum in November, sending McInvaill and architect Michael Walker back to the drawing board.

Plans will be on display at the ceremony, scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. with entertainment, food, activities and the traditional shovel ceremony at 4:30. People attending the event will be asked to sign an architect’s rendering that will be framed and hung in the completed library.

“Instead of a traditional groundbreaking,” said assistant librarian Trudy Bazemore, “The Learning Center-Waccamaw committee wanted to make it more of a family-friendly event to attract people to come and take part and see the plans.”

The festival will feature entertainment by the Pawleys Island Concert Band, Starshine Performance Troupe, Beach Singers, Waccamaw Intermediate School steel drum band and Murrells Inlet Community Theatre group. Gullah artist Jonathan Green and poet Marjory Wentworth will participate briefly after they complete a book-signing at Litchfield Books for the Moveable Feast for their new work “Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green.”

McInvaill said Friday’s celebration of a new library is a rare event for a community. “We would like to invite folks to come enjoy this milestone in providing a new public library which will benefit the Waccamaw Neck through enjoyable educational, economic, technological and civic opportunities.”

The 17,700 square foot building is estimated to cost $3.2 million. Construction money will come from the county’s Capital Improvement Plan. Friends of the Waccamaw Library and a spin-off group The Library Center-Waccamaw have raised about $225,000 more for additional materials and technology, according to McInvaill.

“We are grateful for all the work they’ve done,” he said. “They have another year to raise additional funds, and the more money raised will mean more books in the building and the better the technology will be as well.”

The design will be a standard one, McInvaill said, holding costs down while borrowing details from libraries he’s visited.

“This is a beautifully designed structure,” he said, “elegant in its simplicity.”

The plan features an open design with minimal interior walls and doors. Storage has been consolidated, and two small meeting rooms accommodating about 20 people each were added.

“Having meeting space for the folks on the Waccamaw Neck is a crucial thing,” McInvaill said. “Right now, we have people in our meeting room all the time. We need this very badly. The current meeting room accommodates about 60 people fairly comfortably. This building will allow for small and large meetings.”

Friends of the Waccamaw Library will have room to sort used books and a shop for an ongoing book sale. The new library will have a teen tech center with computers and both a training room and multi-purpose room that could be used for computer classes for adults.

Waccamaw’s new library will have as many computers as the main library in Georgetown, McInvaill said, and it will have study areas with wireless Internet availability.

The adult area will have 40 percent more bookshelves, and the children’s area will have 80 percent more. McInvaill said children learn better with real books in their hands. “Computers,” he said, “actually hinder their learning.”

Study rooms will have computers for literacy work, and a separate reading room will provide space for story time.

The preferred exterior design will be of HardiePlank with a border of bricks. There will be a limited number of windows to reduce sunlight, but the front of the building will feature a group of six windows. Plans call for a pitched roof of varied elevations. “We are hoping for a metal roof,” McInvaill said, “again everything dependent on the bidding process. We have only so much money. It would be wonderful to have a donor pay for the metal roof like they did in Carvers Bay.”

In case of rain, events will move to Waccamaw Intermediate School’s cafeteria. Waccamaw Library will be closed all day Friday to allow staff time to work on the groundbreaking festivities. Other branches will close at 1 p.m.

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