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The City of Perkins has announced that it has purchased the historic building at 219 S. Main to be the new home of the Thomas-Wilhite Memorial Library. Capital Funds were used for the $59,000 purchase.
Vacant since 2006, the new location is approximately 7,000 square feet with a 1,000 square foot addition at the back. The library’s current home since 2004 has approximately 4,800 square feet.
The present location is shared with other city departments and used for other purposes, including municipal court and city commission meetings. The multiple uses create problems with parking, security and scheduling. Once the new library is completed, the city will continue to use the current space.
“The Perkins Public Library Trust has spent a great deal of time to determine that this is the best location for a new library,” said Alison Bloyd, Library Director. “It is not only a larger building with additional parking, allowing us to expand library services and programs to better serve our community, but it gives us the opportunity to restore and preserve a historic downtown building.”
Established in 2013, the Library Trust consists of five members who are appointed by the City Commission, the Library Board, and Friends of the Library.
The Library Trust is beginning the process of planning for the renovation, including hiring an architect for plans. It will then get bids for construction, and begin applying for government grants. The exact cost of the project hasn’t been determined, but is conservatively estimated at $500,000.
In addition to utilizing all possible government funding, the Library Trust is asking for donations from individuals and businesses. Tax deductible donations can be made at Payne County Bank, the Perkins Library and Perkins City Hall or can be mailed to Perkins Public Library Trust, P.O. Box 519, Perkins, OK 74059.
Donations can also be made through purchases made on Amazon though its AmazonSmile program which donates 0.5 percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. To make a donation to the Library Trust through AmazonSmile, go to Smile.Amazon.com and search for Friends of Thomas-Wilhite Memorial Library. After selecting the organization, future eligible purchases will result in a donation for the new library project.
“December 2 has been designated as #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. The goal is to find a way to come together to give something more, and share how you are giving,” said Bloyd. “We hope that our community can come together to help support our new library project.”
The current library offers 15,000 print and audio visual materials, five public computers, WiFi, genealogy resources, copier, facsimile, notary services, eBook and audiobook downloads, and educational opportunities and programs for all ages.
The first public library in Perkins was established in 1958 as the result of a concerted community effort, led by Perkins Journal editor Bob Evans. The Lions Club organized a library board that solicited the City Council, and reached the approval of a $150 per month budget for librarian’s pay and rent of the front portion of Neal’s Shoe Shop with Mrs. Neal serving as the librarian.
By January 1959, the library had outgrown the location and moved to 122 S. Main with its collection of 3,000 books. Another move became necessary in 1968, and Nina Thomas Wilhite offered the old post office building at 129 S. Main. The building was rent free, and the library was named the Thomas-Wilhite Memorial Library.
In 1982 the town passed Ordinance 142, establishing the library department which was necessary to be recognized by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. The librarian became a salaried city employee, and the board members became appointees of the town council. The library moved to its current location in 2004.
The building at 219 S. Main began construction in November 1919, and was completed in May 1920. The south half of the building was home to the 400-seat Lyric Theater until 1957. The north half of the building was originally the Platt Brothers Ford Garage, and later became Perkins Motor Company. Delmar Niles purchased the building in the 1960s, and remodeled it into a supermarket building. It operated as Del-Mar’s Foods until 1995 when it was sold and renamed Perkins Food Center, which closed its doors in 2006.
“We are extremely excited to get this project underway, so that we can not only increase the services that the library provides to citizens, but also bring another part of our historic downtown back to life,” said Bloyd.