The Tipton County Public Library, which is expected to open in two months inside the new 54,000-square-foot learning center located on Dyersburg State's Covington campus, will be unique in concept and design.
State-of-the-art technology and an unprecedented amount of computers available to the public is the main drawing card. But the way, and how fast, the project came to fruition makes the project one of a kind.
The government's gears are known to grind slowly. A library built at Dyersburg State's campus in Dyersburg took more than 15 years from concept to reality.
This project took four, thanks in large part to Tipton County's financial involvement. The county appropriated $3 million to the $9.8 million project.
"I don't know that it's been done anywhere," Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said in regard to a county partnering with a college to get a public library built. "There were a lot of different things that were accomplished. We got a new library. Dyersburg State got a new library and new learning center with it. Quite frankly, we leap frogged a lot of projects that were line to be built because of the local money."
The Tennessee Board of Regents oversees and prioritizes construction projects for the state's colleges and universities. Getting things built is very competitive.
"The three million dollars did a lot of things," Huffman said. "It helped Dyersburg State get this a lot quicker and, quite frankly, we needed a new library. We couldn't wait 15 years."
The Tipton County Public Library in Covington has 15 computers for public use. The new library will have 280 computers, 75 of which will be open to the public. Wi-fi will be available in around the library as well, meaning those with lap tops, tablets and other devices will have Internet access even if no computers are available.
There is also a community room and a significant amount of space designed specifically for use by small children. Drop down projectors are in the community room and rooms for children and there's a designated entrance and exit for children. One of the rooms for children includes a small stage and a kitchen.
"The idea is," Huffman said, "if you can get kids in here at a young age, you'll have a better chance of getting them in a higher learning institution. They won't be intimidated by a college campus."
There are also several small rooms that can be used for small group studies or tutoring sessions. Huffman said he expects the library to be utilized by adults as well.
"What we found was that when the economy got worse, the first thing people were cutting was their cable and Internet access," Huffman said. "Yet, in order to apply for a job to get ahead, you had to have Internet access and be able to use computers."
The learning center portion of the building includes several large classrooms, an area for workout equipment and a recreation room that will have pool tables, ping pong tables and video games.
As of early this week, the building's exterior was complete. Contractors were finishing up painting inside and putting the finishing touches on various things. Computers and furniture are expected be installed next. A grand opening is expected to be held in September.
"I think we've proven that these kinds of colleges can certainly help produce a quality workforce, people with more skills who can attract better-paying jobs," DSCC president Dr. Karen Bowyer said. "The fact that we're building a nicer facility will attract local high school kids."