JASPER, Tenn. - The Jasper Public Library is in need of two costly upgrades, and city leaders are examining the potential costs.
Library Director Carolyn Stewart said her primary concern is the lack of storage at the facility.
"We are desperate for storage," she said.
Alderman Steve Looney said this is not the first time he's heard Stewart complain about the library's storage situation.
"There's a ton of people using the library, and she needs the room," he said.
More than 5,000 people visited the library in July, Stewart said.
Mayor Paul Evans said city leaders also must consider the costs for badly needed roof repairs at the library.
Jasper's insurer, the Tennessee Municipal League, will not cover the estimated $23,000 for those repairs, he said.
"They came out and looked at it," Evans said. "It's not covered by our insurance."
"I'd rather have storage," Stewart said.
The library's current storage room is about 15 feet by 20 feet, and it's "stacked to the ceiling," said Streets and Sanitation Supervisor Tim Davenport.
He said he has spent up to 10 minutes moving various items around in that room just to get to the back of it to change air filters in the HVAC system.
The city bought an old car wash next to the library several years ago and demolished that structure so it could be used for more parking.
Evans said city administrators would look into prices for a detached storage building that could be built on that site.
"It would need to be [as big as the library's current storage room] at least," Davenport said. "I wouldn't build anything less than that."
Jasper might be able to get a grant from the state to help with the construction costs, Looney said.
Most grants for libraries require matching funds, Stewart said.
"If we can get something built for $25,000, we can probably stand to borrow $12,000," Looney said. "We've got a piece of land sitting there doing nothing, and the library does good business down there."
Evans said the city will look into the costs of building a concrete block or prefabrication building on the site, but it would have to be climate controlled.
"I definitely don't want to do it if we don't have the money and can't afford it," Looney said. "We'll look into it to see what we can come up with."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.