As they worked together indoors and outdoors last week, they could not stop smiling and sharing jokes.
Margaux Burleson, James Frayley and Bruce Copeland are among those who have spent many hours preparing for the grand opening event for the new Mountainburg Public Library building, which will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the new location, 225 U.S. 71 Northwest in Mountainburg. The trio of colleagues are helping landscape the property surrounding the new library, organizing the library’s shelves and desks and are sharing their enthusiasm for the new building with everyone within earshot.
“It’s been really exciting to have the community of Mountainburg behind us with the new library building,” said Burleson, who is the children’s librarian for the Mountainburg Public Library. “We are grateful for everyone’s support and contributions.”
Frayley, who is the library’s information technology specialist, said the new library building will help downtown Mountainburg become even more centralized.
“This will be integrated with the Mountainburg Community Center and the park,” he said. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
The grand opening is expected to draw “many, many Mountainburg residents and those from the surrounding communities” and will feature tours of the new building, refreshments, musical performances by the Mountainburg Mountain Dulcimer Club, balloon animals and more, Burleson said.
“Right now, we have about 18,000 books, but we’ll have an influx of new books for our grand opening,” she said. “That’s one of the exciting things that will be taking place.”
Designed by MAHG Architecture and Hawkins-Weir Engineers and built by Crawford Construction Co., the new library is about 4,000 square feet in size and cost “about $500,000” to build, said Frayley.
The library will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays beginning May 20, Burleson said. The lower areas of the library’s outer walls are made of stones “that are local to Mountainburg,” Burleson said.
“We have some rocking chairs that were donated and will be placed on our new, nice porch,” she said. “And the members of the Friends of the Library have had bake sales and other fundraisers to help us.”
A new sidewalk was created by city officials to run parallel with U.S. 71 and will make access to the library easy for all community members and visitors, Burleson said.
“We are so excited to be located right by the park now,” she said. “The sidewalk now makes it safe for kids to walk from the park and school to the library. It’s exciting to be in the center of town.
“And people here who don’t have transportation can still visit us at the library because we’re at the center of town,” Burleson added.
Copeland, who helps with landscaping and other projects for the Crawford County Library System, agreed.
“I’m retired and I’ve been working here for three years, and I can tell you this is the best job I’ve had,” he said. “The library offers so many services and is a great part of the community.”
There are “many individuals” who use the Mountainburg library, Burleson said.
“I’d say that most of those people are adults, but I’m guessing that with us now being closer to the schools and the park that more children will be using our library,” she said.
Mountainburg Public Library officials are starting a new robotics club for middle school and upper-elementary students, she said.
“We’re going to have some programs and events the week of our grand opening — an Adult Craft day with string art, the Drums Alive program and scavenger hunts,” Burleson said. “And the Mountainburg Mountain Dulcimer Club meets from noon to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month.”
The library’s Wi-Fi service will be expanded, which should draw the attention of many teenagers and adults, Frayley said.
“The Wi-Fi will extend into the parking lot, so that will be good for after-hours use,” he said.
Burleson said the community was “fortunate” that only “a little cosmetic damage to the gutters” was done to the new library building when the recent tornado ripped through Mountainburg.
“Thankfully, the damage wasn’t substantial; it was on the park (south) side of the building,” she said. “A limb from one of the nearby trees here fell against the gutters. If that tree had been a little taller, we would have really been in trouble.”
Mountainburg Public Library officials and supporters currently are raising money to purchase a new sign and create a “children’s learning garden,” Burleson said. Those wishing to make donations or seek information can call (479) 369-1600, she said.
“Any and all donations are welcome,” Burleson said. “We are receiving plant donations for the landscaping, as well, and that’s nice.”
The library’s longtime location was inside a facility at 1300 U.S. 71 North in Mountainburg.
“That building once was a barn and belongs to park service,” Burleson said. “It’s our understanding that that building will be returned to the park service.”
Burleson named Sue Yount, branch director for the Mountainburg Public Library, and Eva White, director for the Crawford County Library System, as strong, ongoing sources of inspiration for the new library building.
“Sue has been advocating for this project for 16 years,” Burleson said. “She’s always stood behind this, and she has made sure that this is something that will serve the community.
“And Eva was instrumental with the Van Buren Library, which was an upswing move from that town,” she added. “Because of the Van Buren Library, the town was able to get a firehouse among other things. People saw that as an investment in Van Buren.”
Burleson, Frayley and Copeland all said they hope people will view the new Mountainburg Public Library building the same way.
“We want for people to see that our new library in Mountainburg is a solid investment in our community,” Burleson. “Mountainburg is a friendly place, and we want everyone to see what will happen. We want Mountainburg to be a town that will grow and for the library to be a stable place for the community and for those who live outside the community. ”