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With the opening date drawing near for the Patrick Lynch Public Library, the finishing outside touches are being completed.
The new library, which is scheduled to open May 1, will replace the Buckley Public Library, located on Dewey Avenue. Until construction is complete, Buckley will remain open in its current capacity. After Patrick Lynch Public Library is completed, plans have been made to give the old facility to the Literacy Council of LeFlore County, which is now housed at Buckley.
The new 21,000-square-foot facility will house areas for children, teens and adults, as well as three study rooms, a computer laboratory and a conference room. Construction began in July after a groundbreaking ceremony. Brad Archer of Harison, Walker & Harper of Paris, Texas is project manager overseeing the completion of the construction phase. The building was designed by the MAHG architectural firm of Fort Smith, Ark.
Though the city of Poteau is building the new facility, there are still several special library projects not covered by the core budget. The Friends of Buckley Library, a qualified charitable organization, has covered the costs of these projects for years and the relocation of the library presents a huge challenge for the group. The Friends are responsible for furnishing the interior of the new facility. They will be able to complete their task due to private donations, fundraising events and grants they have obtained.
According to the Friends, the new location and size of the new library is expected to create a 40 percent increase in patrons. Buckley has served more than 85,000 patrons since 2011 with an average of nearly 100,000 items checked out.
The Friends have been an active group ensuring the community gets the best it can from the library. According to the Friends, members help with the 18-and-under group by providing lunches and other necessities for the yearly summer reading program and sponsor children to attend a week long Matrix Camp in the summer that teaches children about various careers in the library field. The 18-64-year-old age group utilizes equipment provided by the Friends group such as computers to file income tax returns, unemployment benefits, job searches and resumes. Various book clubs and organizations use the library for meetings. The 65-plus group also receives benefits from the library. Stitching groups meet to make lapghans and free blood pressure checks and other health/wellness services are also done at the library.
The Patrick Lynch Public Library is located at 208 S. McKennna St., adjacent to the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center.