Raitz has vision for southside library

PARKERSBURG – Residents of south Parkersburg and southern Wood County will soon see a large improvement to their library branch.

Brian Raitz, director of the Parkersburg-Wood County Public Library, said Thursday library officials are working to construct a building next to the southside library branch at 1713 Blizzard Drive in Parkersburg.

“There really isn’t a way for people to come in here and enjoy a quiet time like people do at the Emerson library,” Raitz said of the southside branch.

Raitz said the library wants to make a larger, better branch for patrons to enjoy. He wants people to do more than drop off books and pick them up. He wants people to be able to sit down and enjoy reading the books the library offers.

Whether it be outside on a patio or inside overlooking the rolling hills of the county, Raitz said he wants residents south of the Little Kanawha River to enjoy a close library.

“Southside doesn’t have anything likes this,” Raitz said of what they are hoping to build. “There is plenty of space for parking and it’s a good destination for everyone who lives on the southside (of the city).”

Since 1972, south Parkersburg has been serviced by the branch on Blizzard Drive, but Raitz said it’s time for a much needed update.

Raitz hopes construction on the new library, to potentially be built on top of the hill next to Fire Station 5, can begin next spring and be finished in the spring of 2015.

“One of the big advantages of this property is it’s free, but there is a higher development cost,” Raitz said.

The park property the library wants to build on is owned by the city; the property the library sits on is built into a city ordinance giving the lot to the library system.

Raitz said once the library is larger, there will be two staff members as opposed to the one, Matt Emrick, who works 35 hours a week Monday through Friday.

The other employee will be dedicated to the children’s library. The southside library will be able to offer more child-friendly services, Raitz said.

Officials hope the new property will be between 7,000 and 10,000 square feet. The current library has 1,200 square feet.

Raitz said early estimations on cost are about $1.5 million, but some of that can be paid for by the library levy that passed in November 2012.

The library system worked into the levy the construction of the new building, updates to the Emerson Avenue Parkersburg-Wood County Public Library building, new hours for the Waverly branch and Williamstown weekend hours, he said.

Also, the library has begun to work with the Vienna Public Library where patrons of each system can request materials from the other. Residents of Vienna wanting to order a book that may be on Emerson Avenue can request it online and pick it up in Vienna.

The new library would not only be larger, but the location would be perfect for outdoor reading.

“The noise is cut down a lot,” Raitz said of the park property on the hill. “It would be good for the city.”