A crowd of about 75 gathered this morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Montclair Community Library. Dick Murphy, the former director of the Prince William County Library System, seemed to sum up the feelings of everyone in the crowd when he stepped to the podium and yelled “Yippee!”
Voters approved the construction of the Montclair and Gainesville community libraries in a 2006 bond referendum. This morning, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart said it was time to get started building them. “It’s been a tough few years with our budget, with the recession, but the board has been committed to financing the libraries and the parks. Even though they are very expensive, they’re very, very important to the quality of life in Prince William County. Ultimately, they help maintain our housing values and make this a better place to live.”
Current Library System Director Connie Gilman, who emceed the event, stated “It was the Board of County Supervisors, led by the tenacity of Mrs. Maureen Caddigan, the Library Board of Trustees, the Foundation, the friends groups and our dedicated patrons who guaranteed that funding was approved on April 29.”
Potomac District Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan — a long-time champion of the new libraries and who was mentioned several times during the event for her tenacity in moving this project forward — said people are starting to get excited now that work will begin. “We are thrilled about the coming of this library. I have received many very positive comments from the communities who are now realizing that it will at long last be finally happening.”
The Montclair Library, scheduled to open in September 2015, will include the Barnes House, which is one of the county’s only remnants of a post-Civil War African settlement. When the library is complete, the Barnes House will become a reading room and interpretive center. The house was moved from Independent Hill to county-owned property for protection from ongoing construction on Route 234.
Caddigan said the Barnes house juxtaposed with state-of-the-art technology would make the Montclair Library unique. “This is going to be a wonderful, beautiful library.”
Stewart said it has been 20 years since the county built the Bull Run Regional Library, the last library built in the county. He said that in that time, the county’s population has more than doubled. “Twenty years ago, our population was just over 200,000. Today, it’s at 430,000 people. There’s no question of the need for the libraries is here.”
Burk Andrews, the chairman of the Library Board of Trustees, echoed the others and said that the county’s doubling in population has left the other county libraries strained. “Without this additional library support, our existing system would experience distress and a reduction in the quality of services our library patrons demand and deserve.”
Andrews also thanked the Prince William Board of County Supervisors for listening to county residents who approved the $13.8 million bond. “We are one of the few counties in the United States that is building libraries instead of closing them.”
There will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the Gainesville Community Library next Wednesday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m.
For more information about the new libraries or the Prince William County Library System, visit www.pwcgov.org/library