Fort Smith’s library is moving to a new location inside the town’s community and recreation centre. The old building will mark its last day of operations on Saturday.
Samantha Stokell, the library’s arts and culture program coordinator, has worked at the Mary Kaeser Library for the past five years. She says staff are looking forward to the new space.
“It’s more accessible,” she told Cabin Radio.
The current building, which is 52 years old, has two levels. The basement, which holds adult fiction and non-fiction books, is only accessed by a staircase, a difficulty for people with mobility issues.
The new space, on the second floor of the community centre, is accessible by elevator.
The new library will also have dedicated program rooms.
“We don’t have a dedicated program space here. Usually we do our kids’ programming and our adult programming in the middle of the library space,” said Stokell.
“We’ll have 20 kids doing arts and crafts, and it’s really loud. But in the new space, we’re going to have a separate program space.”
The Mary Kaeser Library opened in 1970.
“After Mary Kaeser died, instead of people giving flowers, they put money in a trust to help furnish the new library,” said Stokell.
“They decided to name it after her, and the new library is going to keep the name.”
The Kaeser family is well-known in Fort Smith for its contribution to the town’s development and for the family-owned grocery store Kaeser’s.
Other buildings in the town bearing the name include Kaeser’s Home Furnishings and Paul William Kaeser High School.
The library will be closed until further notice while the move takes place. Stokell said measures are in place to ensure members can still use its services.
“We’re letting people max out their cards and we’re extending their loan period,” she said.
“People who are using the books and whatnot in the library are hopefully all stocked up. We’ve also been promoting our online resources, such as e-books and electronic audio books.”
Stokell said residents will be invited to an opening-day party when the new library is ready.