A facility that has for years only been a fantasy in the minds of Tellico Village Public Library supporters is about to become reality.
A new building located just off Ritchey Road is set for completion in October.
While library supporters do not have a firm date on when the building will be finished, the facility will likely be designated for "substantial completion" this week, David Damm, with the Friends of the Library, said.
"That means we have 30 days to go through the punch list, and we can start moving our stuff in, and we can start making it look like a library," Damm said. He was assisting at the construction site.
Some furniture for the building was ordered recently, which will take about three to four weeks to be delivered. "The inside is pretty much done except for the furniture," Damm said.
The building, which is housed on an unincorporated piece of property, is about 6,200 square feet, compared with the current 1,800-square foot facility. Some of the features of the new library will be a reading room, a computer lab, a coffee station and a children's section. The facility will also feature a conference room that the library plans to rent out as a revenue source. The library's main means of financial support is Friends of the Library membership dues.
The project, which will cost an estimated $1.34 million, is being funded entirely through Friends, which secured a 40-year loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture at a 3.375 percent interest rate.
Damm credited the federal stimulus program for providing the loan at such a low interest rate.
"It's the best damn rate you can get, and you can't go down to your local United Community Bank and get a 40-year-loan," Damm said. "It is the result of stimulus money. It's not a gift, but if it wasn't for the stimulus program, we wouldn't have this building."
Friends president pro tem Carolyn McDermott said the organization did not qualify for a grant for the building because of the income in the Village, and Friends could not get a loan from the bank because of no steady income. A loan through the federal government was the only choice.
"We're volunteers," Damm said.
"We raise funds," McDermott chimed in.
"And if people decide not to buy their membership, we don't have any funds, so it was no cash flow that kind of ruled us out of conventional mortgages with conventional banks," Damm said. "They were socking away 20 grand a year into the building fund, and you figure out how long it would take to get to $1,339,000 at 20 grand a year. That would have been forever."
One of the more curious features of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building are the support braces along some of the interior windows. The braces are crisscrossed and resemble miniature suspension bridge cables with a buoy-shaped element for decoration.
"When the original design was to be a steel building when that was discarded because of cost, we went to all windows," McDermott said. "And the structural engineer required us to brace it. Originally, I thought, 'Oh, I just hate that,' but I've gotten use to it, and you don't see it anymore, but it will be there and is part of the structural engineering of the building itself."
The library also features the Maryann Bork Memorial Courtyard that can be rented out. The most prominent landscaping feature right now is a 200-year-old tree that serves as the centerpiece for the facility. The U-shaped building is centered with the tree.
McDermott said the library's supporters would take a piecemeal approach to the remainder of the grounds and add shrubs as funds become available.
"What we're trying to do is just make it as suitable as we can for the money that we have, and we are hoping then that people will help us through fundraisers and so on," McDermott said.
She said excitement about the library is running high as Villagers begin to see the finished product. The library has even garnered attention from potential homeowners.
"I've had people tell me they've come to the Village and they're looking around," McDermott said. "One person bought (property) here because of the library because they said they were so excited about the fact that we were going to have a modern library that this was where they wanted to live, so I think it creates a tremendous visual impact."
Library Manager Becky Haile said she expected the current library to close down for about two weeks as staff transitioned to the new facility.
"I'm just overwhelmed," Haile said. "It's a dream come true. I've been here 15 years waiting for this, and I think a lot of them have been waiting longer than that. We started it years ago. I'm just glad we're getting it done during the 25th year. It just adds to all the excitement."
While the current library has a catalog of more than 10,000 titles, she hoped to get that number up to about 18,000 after moving into the new building, noting she will be pleased to have the entire collection in one place.
"Just having enough room to have all the books out and not be so crowded" was one of the most important advantages of the new facility, she said, pointing to one corner of the current library. "Like, the collection is split up now. We've got reference and woodworkers back here, and all of it will be together, so it will have some rhyme or reason to the way it's laid out."
Another symbolic milestone was achieved recently. The outside lights have been activated so visitors can view the facility's progress even at night.
"We've been talking about it for seven years now," Damm said. "They can see the building, and last night I finally came over here and got the lights on at night. We have parking lot lights, and, of course, we have these lights on the side of the building. The time clock was set wrong, so basically when we reset the time clock, we now have lights at night.
"If anybody drives by now, they'll see it. It's not just a black hole in the wall," he said.
Friends will hold the third annual beer and wine tasting and silent auction from 5-8:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Yacht Club to raise money for library furniture. Cost is $35 for beer, wine and appetizers or $25 for appetizers only.
For more information about the library, visit: http://www.tvlibrary.org
. Etched bricks that will appear in the courtyard may also be purchased from the website.