COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — On Tuesday afternoon, a small crowd gathered at South Columbus Public Library for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the library being in the future. The renovated library will feature a larger children’s department and dedicated teen space, a 75-seat public meeting room, an enlarged computer area with updated technology and additional study rooms.

Alan Harkness, director of Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, thanked everyone for showing up, especially considering the wet, overcast conditions outside.

Above, Alan Harkness, director of Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, speaks at the podium.

“It’s a great day to be in Columbus when you can celebrate and be thankful for public education and public libraries and learning of all kinds,” he said. “It’s important we thank a whole lot of people who will make this long dream for renovation and expansion of the South Columbus Public Library a reality.”

He first thanked the Muscogee County Library Board and its chairwoman, Marion Scott.

“Our board support for this renovation has been unwavering, especially through our last year of unpredictable construction costs,” he said. “They saw this vision for South Columbus and understand its vital importance for our community.”

Harkness thanked the Muscogee County School District, naming Superintendent Dr. David Lewis and Board Chair Pat Hugley Green. He also recognized elected officials, saying taxpayer-supported grants provided by the Georgia General Assembly cover a significant part of the construction budget. He thanked the Muscogee County Library Foundation, saying that they were putting “a lot of time, effort and advocacy” into the project.

Harkness also thanked the citizens of Muscogee County for their support through the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and through using their local libraries.

“We can’t wait to have you back in early 2024 when we open again,” he said.

Harkness said Chattahoochee Valley Libraries were fortunate to be partnered with architectural firm Hecht Burdeshaw Architects Inc. and Gordy Construction Company for the project.

Finally, he thanked the staff of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries for their support.

“These good folks have waited a long time for this expansion to become a reality,” he said. “They spent countless hours planning and talking about what kind of service we want to have here in South Columbus.”

Scott was the next to speak. She echoed Alan’s thanks towards everyone who had helped make the project a reality.

“Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said that ‘a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people,’” she said. “… Carnegie also said that it’s ‘a never failing spring in the desert.’ I like all of that. I wonder who his writer was. But I’m very impressed with this quote.”

Scott said Carnegie was right.

“I mean, where else can you find a facility, of the staff and the recourses to help people from all walks of life enrich those very lives?” she said. “Where else can we as a community begin to better knit together our own social fabric? A library represents that and so, so much more.”

She said the newly expanded facility would help more people access technology and literature, give more children a safe space and provide room for more books and computers.

Library patron Amiyra Hendrix said she was excited for the future of the library and anticipated checking out more books. She gave a shout-out to library staff for being helpful.

Harkness reminded everyone that the library’s temporary location is at Our Lady of Lourdes Church at 1953 Torch Hill Road. He said the location would have the same operating hours as the old one.

After everyone was done speaking, several attendees put on hard hats and gathered with shovels for a photoshoot. Instead of turning dirt with their shovels, they turned confetti.