After being shut down for almost two years for renovation—and because there was no money to reopen it—the Salem-Panola Library is open again.
Once a 4,000-square-foot facility with 11,000 books and 10 computers, Salem-Panola Library, located at 5137 Salem Road in Lithonia, now has 18,000 square feet, 53,000 books, a 100-seat meeting room, and 38 computers. The library’s parking lot was expanded from 20 spaces to 140 spaces.
The cost of the improved library, which opened after a dedication ceremony on June 6, is approximately $4.4 million, including design, construction, furniture and fixtures. The library’s renovation was funded by a 2005 bond referendum in which taxpayers voted to set aside $54.5 million to expand the library system.
The branch’s weekly schedule will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday and Tuesday; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
This is the second of three libraries to be opened this year. The Hairston Crossing branch opened in April and the new Stonecrest branch is scheduled to open June 13. During its budget approval process, the county’s Board of Commissioners mandated that the libraries be opened this year.
“We had to go through quite a bit of cutting hours and rearranging staff to open” the libraries, said Janet Florence, public information officer for the DeKalb County Library system.
Library officials had planned to close the Scott Candler Library until later this year when construction is completed of a new building. Construction is under way on the facility, which will be located at 1917 Candler Road and will be part of a mixed-use development with a senior center and senior housing.
But those plans were nixed by the Board of Commissioners after public outcry.
There are plans for future libraries in Ellenwood and Brookhaven. There are also plans for a Northeast Plaza library in Chamblee, but those plans are pending until a site is chosen.