With the news of the newly-formed Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation submitting a bid to purchase the Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS), the Peninsula Community Library has news of its own.
Long housed in the OMPS building, the Library Board of Trustees voted last month to begin the construction process for its own building on 5.25 acres at the corner of Island View and Center Roads. The land was purchased by the library in 1990, with an eye on one day building its own space.
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In an email today, library director Vicki Shurly noted of the 1990 purchase, “Mary Johnson*, a board member at the time and a much loved Old Mission matriarch, told me more than once over the years that it was her dream to see a community library on that land before she died. Mary is still with us. She will be 92 years old in December. Appropriately, Mary’s granddaughter, Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer*, is a trustee on our current board and supports wholeheartedly the change we are going to make happen here in our world.”
Shurly continues, “I know that many of you have been following the situation with Old Mission Peninsula School and have been concerned with where the library stands in all this. Peninsula Community Library is not a part of TCAPS. The space we occupy has never been our own. In fact, the space we rent is entirely cohabited by TCAPS’ Library Media Center. TCAPS owns its own books within the space and employs its own library media aide. Know that I speak from the heart when I say that I love the school – all three of my children are OMPS alumni and I was, once upon a time, PTO president, room mother and classroom volunteer.”
She adds that aside from the school issue, there is the increasingly important question of security in a world where schools must question everyone who enters a building in order to protect students, and that of a public library, where all must be allowed free entry.
“Should patrons ever be required to sign in or be buzzed in, the state would for certain pull our certification as a public library and we would cease to exist,” says Shurly. “Know that we have appreciated our relationship all these years with the school and will continue to collaborate regardless of where we are physically located. However, it is time that we serve our community in a different capacity. This is a community that has a median age of 57.3, and there are so many ways that we need to reach out to everyone, including but not exclusive to our school family.
“As we begin this incredible journey, we will count on you, our patrons, to be an integral part of our plans. We will not be asking for tax increases to either fund construction or operate a new building. We will be seeking community donations and grants to build. It is the Board’s promise to you that we will construct a building that we can afford to operate under current funding and budgets. A building fund has been set up and currently holds seed money of $250,000 set aside over the years as an emergency fund by the PCL Board. Details are still in the planning stage.
“This is very much a project of possibilities. It is about what we can offer as a community library in space that is ours. A community room available to groups for gatherings and meetings? YES! More and varied daytime programming? YES! Adequate space to park for both handicapped and non-handicapped patrons? YES! An outdoor space to hold concerts and events? YES! A locally themed garden for both children and adults to enjoy? YES! A fireplace and veranda to where you can while away a few hours with magazines or books? YES! Special events with local wine and food tastings? YES!”
She ends by noting that sometimes change is hard, but the library board’s decision assures that there will always be a community library for the residents of Old Mission. “I am fully on board,” says Shurly. “I ask you to join the Board and me on this journey of change. We can make great things happen together.”
If you have questions or comments about the library’s building project, feel free to leave thoughts in the comments section below, call the library at (231) 223-7700, or email Vicki Shurly at [email protected].
*NOTE: Mary Johnson is my mom, and Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer my niece. – jb