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Youngsters are already taking advantage of the expanded space and computing power at the High Springs Branch Library.  (Photo special to Alachua County Today)

HIGH SPRINGSToday’s public libraries are more than just shelves overflowing with books. Not only does the library of the 21st Century offer access to online resources unavailable to some community members, libraries help build and maintain strong community connections. In High Springs, area residents have reason to celebrate as the High Springs Branch Library has undergone a major expansion.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 24, High Springs city and Alachua County commissioners showed up for the High Springs Branch Library for celebration of the expansion/renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony

Speakers included High Springs Mayor Byran Williams, who spoke about the increased value to the community of the expansion, Shaney Livingston, Library Director, Alachua County Library District, Lee Pinkoson, Chair, Alachua County Library District Governing Board, and Susan Sonsini, Chair Alachua County Library District Board of Trustees.

“It was a real pleasure to see children using the early learning computers, teens gravitating to spaces and programs designed for them, crafters visiting the expanded crafting area, etc.,” said Nickie Kortus, Alachua County Library District Marketing and Public Relations Manager. Kortus estimates 50-75 people attended the library branch's grand opening. “People trickled in throughout the day,” she said.

The expansion creates a total of 8,200 sq. ft. of space designed to meet the needs of the growing community. In addition, the space now features a new children’s area, two study rooms, a quiet reading room and a larger community meeting room.

Despite all the work involved in adding 3,200 sq. ft. to the library structure, the library branch remained open throughout construction. “The building was only closed a few hours one day due to the laying of the carpet,” said Kortus.

An over-sized ceremonial donation check provided by the Alachua County Library District Foundation was presented to pay for the Snuggle Up Center and teen space. The quiet reading room was funded by the Friends of the Library.

On the outside of the building an expanded parking lot was created to make room for more visitors. “As many state-of-the-art energy efficient improvements as possible were added to the structure to help maintain lower operating expenses,” said Kortus.

The celebratory reception was held in the large meeting room. Two large sheet cakes were provided by Friends of the High Springs Library and other refreshments were provided by the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman's Club. Thompson's Flower Shop provided flowers and decorations for the well-attended event.

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