McAlester Library

SEOLS | Courtesy image

This model shows an artist's conception of what the McAlester Public Library will look like once a major expansion project is complete.

Plans are underway for a major expansion to the McAlester Public Library — with $3 million already pledged toward the total amount needed.

Fundraising kicked off with a $1.5 million pledge from the Puterbaugh Foundation, with the Southeastern Oklahoma Library System Board of Trustees also voting this week to match the pledge with $1.5 million of its own.

In addition, the McAlester City Council passed a resolution of support for the project. Although the city resolution did not include any funds for the project, the resolution was needed before the SEOLS Board voted on its pledge.

"I'm excited, that's for sure," said SEOLS Executive Director Michael Hull. "This project has been talked about for so long and now we've got commitments for $3 million." The SEOLS pledge for $1.5 million is set at $300,000 per year over a five-year period to match  the $1.5 million Puterbaugh Foundation pledge.

Hull is already anticipating the next part of the project.

"The next step is to meet again with the architects," Hull said. "They will meet with consultants."

Hull said a fundraising drive will soon begin for the rest of the money needed to complete the library expansion and renovation.

"We hope to aim for $5-7 million," he said. 

Included in the plans is an outdoor balcony or veranda that would be part of an expanded meeting area on the north side of the library mezzanine. It would offer a spectacular view of the city to the north, said Hull.

Another phase of the project calls for extensive renovations inside the library building at 401 N. Second St.

That would include new plumbing, electrical wiring and heating and air conditioning, along with all new carpeting inside the facility, Hull said.

Hull noted there is already enthusiasm for the project. SEOLS' Board consists of 22 trustees from the seven Southeastern Oklahoma counties covered by the library system. Sixteen trustees were present at the meeting where the board voted on the $1.5 million for the McAlester Public Library expansion and all 16 supported it, making the vote unanimous.

"They were very excited," Hull said.

Southeastern Oklahoma Library System covers Pittsburg, Latimer, Haskell, LeFlore, Coal, Choctaw and McCurtain counties.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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