City officials and civic leaders hope a soon-to-be-constructed library in Mountainburg will spark additional growth in the area.

About 50 people gathered in Mountainburg on Thursday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new public library.

Library personnel, state and local officials, and those involved in the construction broke ground for the new Mountainburg Public Library at 223 U.S. 71, next to the city park.

Crawford County Library System Director Eva White and Mountainburg Mayor Neal Moon addressed the crowd about their hopes for the new 4,000-square-foot library and the town.

Moon grew emotional as he told those present that the library project was “dear to his heart.”

“This is a cornerstone for the future of this town,” Moon said. “We’re not a dying community; we’re a growing community.”

Moon has worked to revitalize the little town in the northeast section of Crawford County, which has seen a loss of businesses and residents in past years.

White compared the project to the 2011 opening of a new library in Van Buren, which she said helped residents feel comfortable supporting a sales tax to pay for other projects such as a new senior inn and police station.

“That could happen in this community just as well,” White said.

White also thanked those present who helped support the plan for the new library in Mountainburg.

“We’ve worked a long time to see this happen,” White said. “I came back as library director to get this done.”

White retired briefly in August 2013 from her position as CCLS director after 13 years, returning in 2014 after her replacement left the post for another position.

Alma Area Chamber of Commerce Director Bryan Huff helped organize the event. Huff also spoke on the expectation of growth throughout Crawford County.

“This county is going to grow and Mountainburg is going to benefit from that growth,” Huff said. “This is probably one of many times that we’ll be bringing our shovels up here.”

MAHG Architecture and Hawkins-Weir Engineers Inc. worked on the design for the new library and Crawford Construction Co. will oversee construction, which is expected to cost about $546,000.

Contractors are waiting on documents for the library to be finalized to create an outlined budget, after which they will begin construction, said Rich Rapin, Crawford Construction project manager.

Construction on the new library is expected to be complete in mid-February, Rapin said.

The new building will have an open concept with rolling shelves to allow for multiple purposes, White said. Mountainburg’s current library is about 2,500 square feet, she said.

Self service, which allows patrons to check out books and other media at their leisure, will be offered at the new library along with expanded programming, White said.