Library Debate: Part I

By: Patrick Claybon
By: Patrick Claybon

Everyone has their own idea of what a library should be and the more we spoke with those involved with the Houston-Love Library, the more we found it's not a match for their personal image.

George Houston's own sons provided some of the initial funding for Dothan’s library that was on Troy Street 71 years ago. Since then, the library has only moved once, to its current location in 1965.

A building that once was Dothan High School and an elementary school constructed in 1940, has significant signs of aging, originally described as "handsomely appointed” air conditioned throughout. There was ample space for public meetings and a large adult services department.

However, that was 1965. In 2007, library administration is asking for change.

Director Houston-Love Library Bettye Forbus said, "Because it was never originally designed as a library, it's not the most useful functionality because the space was designed as something else. We've also got things like classroom doors with numbers still painted over them and a staircase that is not usable by the public."

The library is used by the public, even though some of the locations and facilities inside of it are; 500 people a day come through the doors of the Houston-Love Library for everything from computer training courses to just casual reading.

City Manager Mike West said, "I think it would allow the expanding of the capacity of the library. A lot of people who don't have computers in a larger computer lab that stays pretty busy and all that and additionally, it will make a statement to this community that reading and learning is a lifelong endeavor."

Currently, the computer lab at Houston-Love is used daily, and there are free courses to teach people Microsoft Office programs like Excel or PowerPoint. Sometimes however, there simply isn't enough space to cater to everyone.

Forbus adds, "A lot of people have asked about renovating this building, and I've had several architects tell me that it would be more expensive to try to renovate this building and expand it than to have new construction."

The library is going to see an upgrade to its computer lab coming up soon. But as far as the building, it’s probably going to stay in its current state for some time.


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