WHITE HALL — The day Jackie Rueger had been waiting for finally arrived Tuesday in White Hall.
With construction sounds all around her, she watched as work began to build the canopy for the Marion County Public Library System’s Express Library in White Hall.
Rueger, the acquisitions manager at Marion County Public Library, was one of the people involved with the project when it was just a vision six years ago.
She was thrilled to see it becoming a reality.
“It’s exciting to see it happen,” she said. “I’m excited for White Hall. This is such an opportunity for them to be able to use this 24/7.”
A Cleveland, Ohio company, Spectra Contract Flooring, is building the canopy for the Express Library and should be finished sometime today, according to Mel Byler, one of the employees working at the site.
He said the job was going well.
Jessica Batten, public relations manager for the Marion County Public Library, said it’s expected that the machine that will vend out the books and other materials for the Express Library will arrive sometime around Nov. 13. Once it’s installed, it will be connected and tested, and then the staff will be trained. She said it’s hoped that a soft opening for the Express Library can take some time by the end of November.
“We’re so excited,” she said. “It feels like it’s been a long time. The planning for it started six years ago.”
Once the Express Library is up and running, people will be able to walk up to it, and like a Red Box DVD machine, they will be able to take a look at the items that are available to see if anything piques their interest, according to Erika Connelly, the library director of the Marion County Public Library System. Then, they can scan their library card in, press the number of the slot they want, and the book will vend out to them, she said. In addition to books, the Express Library will have DVDs, graphic novels/comic books, CDs and video games.
At its location on the corner of the new White Hall Public Safety Building property, the Express Library will allow people to go to the library without ever leaving the Town. It’s being built on a strip of land between the public safety building and the nearby movie theater. Connelly said the new library will also increase convenience for readers who frequently use the library’s book hold system.
“You also can pick up your holds there. So, if someone goes online and they place holds for certain titles, they actually can specify to pick it up there and we’ll slide it in there so that when they come and scan their card, it immediately knows that they’ve got books waiting and will vend it out to them. They can actually return books here as well,” Connelly said.
According to Connelly, the Express Library will operate 24/7. As an example, she noted it could serve people coming home from a night shift or those who can’t sleep and want to grab a good book.
Rueger, meanwhile, recalled the work for the Express Library that occurred long before any construction work took place.
“We canvassed the businesses in White Hall to see if they would be interested in having a 24/7 here, and they were excited and enthusiastic,” she said. “And anybody who heard us talking about it wanted it here because it would be an advantage to them due to our library (the Marion County Public Library in Fairmont) being further downtown. And then it was put on hold temporarily while we got a site in White Hall. Once we got the site here, things moved very quickly.”
According to Connelly, the Marion County Public Library System will be the first in West Virginia to have an Express Library.
Cindy Stover, Town Coordinator for the Town of White Hall, said she was excited to see the Express Library being built, especially since it’s the first in the state.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “We’re very excited it’s here, and we get to be a part of it.”
“We’ve waited and all of a sudden, like ‘poof,’ it’s here,” she said.
Batten was impressed by how the library system and the Town of White Hall cooperated in bringing the Express Library to White Hall.
Former White Hall Mayor Guy Ward said White Hall will pay for the internet and electric service for the Express Library.
“It’s been a good cooperative project,” Batten said.
The up-front cost of the Express Library was $140,000, which is funded by the Library Levy. While the library system tries to be “very responsible” with its money from the organization, Connelly said it’s important to understand that the library system saved up for the Express Library over five years.