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Mayor: Library won’t go anywhere

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Although the new Tipton County library will open this fall, discussions are underway to keep the current location open.

As the old library, at 300 W. Church Avenue, falls under Tipton County jurisdiction, it will have to be funded completely by the city in order to stay open. 

Although petitions have been out around Covington, keeping the old library open is on the radar of city leaders. 

According to Mayor David Gordon, the city may be able to use the $85,000 already earmarked by Covington for the library and would incorporate shorter operating hours. The current location would then become either an annex or the Covington library. 

“We are working with the Tipton County Library Board and are determined to have something available, keeping some sort of services here, for our Covington users,” said Gordon. 

The new library at Dyersburg State Community College is planned to  be ready in June and move in will take place in August or September, according to Susan Cheairs, head librarian. The current location has a great deal of pedestrian traffic, which would be inhibited by the location of the new library, situated on the DSCC campus. 

“People are waiting for us when we get here in the morning and when we leave at night,” said Cheairs. 

Although the library normally averages a little below 2,000 visits a week, Cheairs said she was concerned last Saturday. “I saw a count of more than a thousand and thought to myself, ‘What happened? And then I realized we were closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of the snow. We still had that many people.”

As part of the Hatchie River library system, the current Tipton County library had more than 32,000 checkouts last quarter, which was more than Lauderdale County, Brownsville, Munford and Somerville combined. 

“People are checking out books," said Cheairs. “We do use computers a lot, too, though. People have to have those to apply for jobs, benefits and unemployment.”

Cheairs said that many people need help with computers and that the staff is trained to have a personal element.

“Every person here needs help of some kind,” said Cheairs, “from finding something online to looking for a certain book. It’s what we do every day, most of the day.”

Possibilities for the old library include an after school tutoring center, English as a Second Language classes and additional senior reading programs. 

“If we don’t keep this location, we’ll have it with a block or two of here,” said Mayor Gordon, who also referred to the new Covington Municipal Center on Main as another option.

The center will house the Tipton County Commission on Aging and may be more financially feasible, yet within a mile of the current site. 

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