Village discusses overdue library

Pinehurst Village Council met for a work session on Tuesday. The topic under discussion was the future of the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives. Council heard a presentation by members of the Given Tufts Foundation Board, given by Chairman Stuart Mills.

He offered a recap of the history of the library and foundation.

In 1964, Pinehurst Resort donated land on the Village Green, and Sarah Given Larson donated money to build the Given Memorial Library in honor of her parents, John and Irene Heinz Given.

In 1974, the Tufts Family Foundation gave the funds and another plot of land to build the Tufts Archives and created an endowment for its support. The foundation now partners with the Village of Pinehurst to support these institutions. The foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization independent of the village government.

The foundation operates the Given Tufts Bookshop to benefit the library and archives; the first $25,000 in profits was delivered to the village on Tuesday afternoon.

The foundation maintains the endowment for the library and archives. The current balance is approximately $2.6 million. The endowment’s first $105,000 annual payment was delivered to the village in December 2022.

The foundation conducts an annual appeal and fundraisers to benefit the library and archives. In the last year, proceeds from these paid for a subscription to museum software called “Past Perfect,” as well as new furniture in the children’s room.

Last year, Pinehurst took ownership of Given Memorial Libary and Tufts Archives, a multimillion-dollar gift from the foundation. Mills said the village is making progress in planning for the expansion and improvement of the library and archives, with construction to begin after the 2024 U.S. Open.

An analysis by LibraryIQ, an organization dedicated to empowering libraries to become a community destination, found that a 20,000-square-foot facility would best accommodate the desired collection and allow for future growth. In contrast, a 17,000-square-foot facility would generally accommodate the collection size (28,000 physical items on opening day), and a 14,000-square-foot facility would require reductions to recommended collection size and/or the elimination of program spaces and would be the smallest recommended facility size.

Mills said the foundation understands that, due to expenses, the building size the village has recommended is smaller than those recommended by the consultants and “by no means lavish” but would be a “big improvement” over the current facility.

A survey shows 67% of Pinehurst residents believe the village should fund a library, and 57% were even willing to support a tax increase to support library operations. Overwhelming support in the community was expressed for expanding or enhancing the children’s book collection and children’s programming, digital media, young adult collection, adult collection and several other categories.

The survey also shows a majority of households with children under 18 have used the library in the past year. Children’s events are by far those most attended by this group, but space for community gatherings does not meet the needs of households with children — 43.5% are “very dissatisfied” with the current library’s offerings.

The council is aware the changes are necessary as the population of Pinehurst grows, with a projected population by 2040 of nearly 40,000. The Given Tufts Foundation has recommended selecting a site that allows for future expansion and leaving the option of building a larger library long enough to finish the feasibility study.

Following the presentation, Mayor John Strickland said he agreed with the council in favoring a site on Magnolia Road (known as “option 3”) roughly across from the entrance to Trinity Christian Fellowship for the library’s construction, and it should be done without delay. There appears to be widespread support for a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds. 

Strickland opened the floor to questions from council members. Lydia Boesch was the first to do so. She came to the point: “What does this community want, and what do they want to pay for?” She said this would be a decision for the next council. The election will occur next month, and it’s important to ensure what the community wants. She said she met with some community members who were not necessarily on board with current plans.

She asked, “What is the mission of the foundation? How would you describe it?” And the reply was the mission is solely to represent the library and the archives, focusing on fundraising.

The major focus of the meeting and presentation was the location and size of the library. The foundation feels it can put together a capital campaign and feasibility study within a reasonable time and have construction go ahead after the U.S. Open next year.

One question dove right to the heart of the matter: “How much money are we talking about here?” The answer: “I think it’s more than half a million dollars and less than ten million, but I don’t really know because you have to respect the donors and what they’re supporting.”

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Pizzella pointed out that more than 90% of households in Pinehurst have at least one computing device and broadband access, so becoming a digital center would not necessarily serve an underserved community. He said expansion is based on the future. Referring to a massive fundraising effort, he said, “We want this library to be the object of affection for our residents … and not the object of their resentment.”

He continued, “We don’t know when the next pandemic is, and we don’t know when the next recession is … we don’t know what’s coming. I think we’ve settled on a style and a location by consensus. Size and price were left. The price tag is driven by the size, as far as I can tell, and what I wasn’t sure of was the premise of how many books are needed in the library.” He said the consultants said the size is based on linear shelf space and population, but he wasn’t sure population should be a factor when 60 percent of that population isn’t using the library. Maybe, he said, they will go with 36,000 books and expand when and if it becomes necessary.

There was a bit of contention about waiting for the completion of a feasibility study, which might delay the construction of a new library. The council has yet to decide on one of the three location options and exactly what the next steps should be. It was, however, moved that funds from the foundation would go to option 3. The following steps would be having the consultants continue their work and the foundation theirs. After a bit more discussion, the motion passed 4-1.

Feature photo: Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives is at 150 Cherokee Road in Pinehurst. Photo via the library.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Steve Biddle.

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