Economy shrinks Georgetown library

Plans for the new Waccamaw Neck Branch Library have shrunk thanks to the economy.

The new Georgetown County branch library was originally designed as a two-story building that would cost about $6 million, but officials are now looking at a one-story $3.5 million building.

Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County library director, said plans that were made before the recession had to be changed.

"This economic disaster hit after we were given the land by the school board to build a two-story structure. Since building this new library was always viewed as a public-private partnership, we realized that we would need to change directions somehow, since it would definitely be more difficult to raise donations during thisterrible time," McInvaill said.

The county is contributing $3.2 million to the project as long as the library raises at least $312,000 from private donations, but McInvaill said he isn't sure how much more than $312,000 they will be able to raise.

"So we are now making plans based on that $3.5 million dollar figure with other add-ons that will be built if we get more donations," he said.

In about six months the library's support group, the Friends of the Georgetown Library, would have a clear idea of where it stands with fundraising and "then, we will build what we can with the money at hand and plan to add more in the future as money becomes available," McInvaill said.

As part of this new plan, however, the library is requesting more land.

The 2 acres for the library is owned by the Georgetown County School District because of a 2008 land swap with the county.

McInvaill and others with the library will soon go before the school board to request more land to accommodate the new library design.

Randy Dozier, Georgetown County School District superintendent, said that while it will be up to the board to make the final decision, he sees the partnership between the school district and the library as "natural."

"We get to share resources" like meeting room space, tutorial services and technology, said Dozier.

The school district already has a similar partnership between the Carvers Bay High School and Middle School and the Carvers Bay library branch, Dozier said.

"Those kids leave school, go to the library, and use their resources. I see the same thing happening at Waccamaw," he said, since the new Waccamaw Neck branch library would be built very close to Waccamaw Intermediate and Middle schools.

McInvaill said the one-story plan eliminates the cost of elevators, stairways and load-bearing floors on the second story and would require less staff once the library is built because "it's easier to observe what's happening in a single-story building."

The estimate is that the new library will be able to be built for about $175 per square foot, meaning there is enough money for a 20,000 square foot building, which is a little smaller than the Socastee Branch Library in Horry County, McInvaill said. Construction could begin as early as 2012.

McInvaill and other library officials are working out when would be the best time to bring the matter to the school board for a vote but he said they are hoping to do so soon.