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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Les Wallace talks with Karin Glendenning about the new additions. The Signal Mountain Library hosts an open house to show off the new expansions including a reading room, patio area, and elevator on May 28, 2022.

After two years of fundraising and a year of construction, an $800,000 addition to the Signal Mountain Library is now open.

The addition includes a 1,000-square-foot reading room and covered patio on the library's lower level, as well as an elevator that allows patrons with mobility issues to reach the lower level without exiting the building, librarian Karin Glendenning said.

"It's really a place where people can sit and look at magazines and read books," she said in a phone interview, adding that many patrons like to come to the library to read magazines because of the wide selection. "There's just not a place like that on Signal Mountain, and we thought this would be a place where people would like to come and sit and be comfortable and not have to drive very far to get to it."

[READ MORE: Fundraising campaign for Signal Mountain Library expansion approved]

The patio, which was previously uncovered, will provide a shady spot for the library to hold its summer children's program, which resumes this summer after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.

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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Ray Gladish flips through a book inside the new reading room. The Signal Mountain Library hosts an open house to show off the new expansions including a reading room, patio area, and elevator on May 28, 2022.

"We just didn't have space where people could sit and leisurely read a book," Britt Reynolds, president of the library's board of directors, said in a phone interview. "The library was geared toward getting your books and getting out, and we wanted to change that."

He said he's glad the cost of the addition was fully covered by donations and did not require the use of taxpayer funds.

[READ MORE: Soddy-Daisy Community Library raising funds to expand into larger space]

Beth Newbold started organizing the fundraising effort with her husband, Carter, just before the start of the pandemic.

"Signal Mountain has such a strong community feel, and the library has a long and wonderful history on the mountain, and so I think people saw it as an opportunity to support that," Newbold said in a phone interview. "I think there was also a lot of hope in the community that maybe one day we would be able to be together again, and when we could we would have this lovely place to gather."

The library has about 5,000 members, which is equivalent to about 57% of the town's population. In May 2022 about 5,000 books were checked out, which is a little more than the 4,000-5,000 checked out in the average month, Glendenning said.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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