CHAUNCEY, Ohio — Chauncey is getting a new, larger library.
In November 2022, Athens County Public Libraries purchased 43 Converse St. for $25,000, director Nick Tepe said. The library system had intended to expand the Chauncey branch for a long time, but took action when John Forsyth, who owned the property at 43 Converse St., died and his family decided to sell it.
“His daughter, who was the one who was handling taking care of his property, thought that having the library be on that site would be a good way to remember him, to do something for the community with that property,” Tepe said.
The empty lot is just down the road from the current library — located at 29 Converse St. — and across the street from the Chauncey Fire Department.
The current library is a one-room, 1,150 square-foot building that used to be the village’s post office. Branch manager Liz Hill describes the library as “Chauncey’s living room.” People come to do homework, use the free Wi-Fi, work in the garden outside the library, have talks on the Friendship Bench and browse for books.
“People come in, and the first thing that happens is they’re greeted by name because (the library staff) know everyone,” council member Evelyn Nagy said. “They will ask, ‘Are you hungry? Do you need a snack?’ Every single person, not just the kid that you know is hungry. Then it’s always followed up by, ‘How can I help you today?’”
The library’s heavy use makes its size a limitation. With just one room, people are not always able to have privacy or quiet time at the library. And when the library hosts events, the building fills up.
“It gets packed in there for these events,” Nagy said. “People still come, no one really seems to mind. But if there was more room, it would definitely be more appreciated.”
The potential to have a larger library — and seeing this investment in Chauncey — is exciting for Hill.
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“I’m having fun imagining all the possibilities and asking people in the community, ‘What would you want if we could double the size of the library?’” Hill said.
Tepe said ACPL is waiting to break ground until it learns if the project will receive funding through the Appalachian Community Grant Program. Regardless of that funding, though, the planning process for the new Chauncey Library will begin this year. Construction will start mid-2024 or early 2025.
“Right now, we have a piece of grass in Chauncey,” Tepe said. “The building can be anything that we can imagine.”
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