Plans underway for new library in Welsh

Published 8:33 pm Sunday, September 12, 2021

WELSH — Welsh residents could have a new place to read, meet and participate in community activities in the future.

Jeff Davis Parish Library Director Clare Coleman said long-range plans are underway for a new library in Welsh.

The McBurney Memorial Library, at the corner of Sarah and Hudspeth streets, was opened in 1973, with plans to connect the building to a future civic center. The civic center did not happen, but the library remains at the location and was renovated in 2010.

While the library has served its purpose for many years, more space and upgrades are needed for future use, Coleman said.

“We are still in the early planning stage, but plans are to either expand the existing library or build a new one in the same location,” Coleman said. “It’s a long-range plan and could take us 5 to 10 years before we start on the project.”

She said the first step is to get the land donated to the library.

The Welsh Board of Aldermen is expected to declare property adjacent to the library as surplus next month and donate the property to the library. The property will revert back to the town if the library does not use the land.

Coleman said the library board has approved the concept of a new library, but has no official design and has not hired an architect for the project.

She said the library has been setting money aside for the project for several years. It hopes to have enough funds to fund the project without borrowing money or asking taxpayers for additional taxes.

The board began discussing the possibility of a new library 10 years ago after a strategic plan found the current library was overcrowded, too small and no longer met the needs of the community. The library lacked meeting rooms, tutoring space for students, storage space and had limited space to hold programs.

“For the parish, a new larger library would give us space where meetings, events, programs and staff training could be held,” Coleman said.  “I can see it becoming our premiere branch because it would be our largest library in the parish.

For the town, a new library could generate some business and bring people in for meetings and other programs, she said.

The Lake Arthur and Elton libraries were the last libraries built in the parish in 2006. The Welsh library was renovated in 2010 and the Jennings library renovated in 2018 and 2019.