Opinion

New library needed

Give credit to York County Library Director Colleen Carney and the staff of the main branch of the library for doing what they can to serve the public in an outmoded facility.

While the library in downtown Rock Hill was closed over the holidays, officials did a little remodeling. Although Carney concedes that the library has outgrown available space, she is committed to making the best use of the space that is available and to do so on a limited budget.

To that end, the technology lab was moved from the first floor to the second floor, increasing space for new computers. The lab now features 19 computers for extended use and a few others that are designated for reviewing e-mails or doing a quick fact check. Officials hope the new arrangement will cut waiting time, which was averaging 80 to 90 minutes.

By the end of the month, the lab also will have a large, flat-screen TV for classroom instruction.

Furniture was added to an expanded young adult book section, which was moved upstairs. Large-print books were moved downstairs, adjacent to books on CD and tape.

Local history and genealogy books were moved into a larger area, and the reference desk was divided into localized help centers scattered throughout the library. Patrons now don't have to walk all the way across the library to get to a single reference desk.

All these changes sound reasonable. Library officials no doubt are the best judges of what patrons want and how to utilize space to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, in announcing these changes, Carney acknowledges that a new downtown library is not likely for the next few years. Again, we question why a new library in Rock Hill is not a higher priority for the county.

We understand what occurred during the 2006 county bond referendum. That $75 million bond package included plans for a new, multimillion-dollar library in downtown Rock Hill. But, trying to gain the support of a broad cross-section of voters, planners decided to load the bond issue down with something for every part of the county. In the end, the smorgasbord approach backfired, and the bond issue was rejected by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Voters seemed to regard the package as overloaded with unnecessary items. But the new downtown library was a victim of that backlash.

Every other branch outside of Rock Hill is either relatively new, has been extensively remodeled or is in line for expansion. For years now, Rock Hill has been left to make do with an inadequate library for the number of patrons it serves.

We appreciate the dedication of library workers in doing their best to improve service and convenience for patrons under difficult circumstances. But we hope the county soon will revisit the pressing need for a new main branch in Rock Hill.

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