Library Needs Space

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The Smith's Grove Library branch is still slated to close on September 1, 2007. That means there's a huge problem for Warren County. The state of Kentucky is required to dedicate a specific number of square feet to public libraries. Warren County is already far below state standards.

The Smith's Grove Public Library accounts for 1,690 feet. It's a small space in the grand scale of local libraries. But according to officials, every foot counts.

19,000 square feet. That's how much space the Bowling Green public library takes up on the city map. It's the largest library in Warren county, but library officials say it's not nearly enough to accommodate the branch's nearly sixty thousand library card holders.

"The problem with square footage is that you can only house the number of books you can fit," said Library Director, Alisa Carmichael.

It's a problem that's been addressed by the Kentucky Library Association. It sets the minimum requirement for library space in Warren County at 75,000 feet. But only a third of that space is actually covered by libraries in Warren County.

"If we were to have two more branches the size of the main branch, it'd be 60,000 feet. That would still put us under the minimum requirements for the state," Carmichael said.

Only adding to the problem is the looming closure of the Smith's Grove branch. Carmichael is optimistic about the library's future, but if it is shut down as planned, she said it would be yet another step back from reaching the county's required minimum.

"Anytime you reduce services, it affects the entire system," she said.

But with no library construction plans underway, patrons will just have to continue borrowing books from their regular locations. That might even mean they'll have to share space to curl up with a good book.

This lack of libraries isn't limited to Warren county. It's a problem that's affected the entire state. Kentucky needs 500,000 more square feet of library space before it reaches the requirements set by the Kentucky Library Association.