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Celebrating Central Library Ground Breaking - June 18, 2017

On Wednesday morning, I had the amazing experience of participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Norman Public Library Central. This has been a dream of mine for over ten years. Many others had the dream much earlier. Our present library was built in the early ‘60s. I served for six years as a Pioneer Library Board member. During that time nearly every other library in the other PLS communities were rebuilt or remodeled. Not in Norman. In 2008 we took a bond issue for a Central Library to the voters. It failed by a very narrow margin. But none of the people who wanted to see that happen gave up.

The information gained during the election led the library supporters down a new path-a smaller central facility and two branches. In 2013 the library staff and board took an innovative approach to providing a west side branch and renovated the old Borders building. It is now a beautiful new addition to our system with office space for the whole Pioneer Library staff, meeting rooms, a performance area, and a coffee shop.

That Library is open and serving several thousand customers a month. But none of the people that wanted to see a new Central and an Eastside Library gave up. In 2014 the Director of PLS was asked to be a member of a group of Civic leaders that were planning a large quality of life initiative called NORMAN FORWARD. In 2015 a successful .05%l sales tax increase was passed to fund a number of projects across the City with the Central Library being the largest. The East Branch was also included. We broke ground on the Norman Public Library East on April 12.

Wednesday morning, with an enthusiastic crowd including many dignitaries on hand, we had presentations, put shovels in the dirt, took pictures and spoke with the media. The mood was celebratory. This was a long time coming and I believe this library will be transformational for the area and all of Norman. It will be a facility that is coming to life after a long period of planning, program development, idea exchanges, modifications, disappointments, community growth, and improvements in technology. It will be a beautiful, LEED-certified, technologically-advanced 21st century facility in the middle of downtown across from a City park and beside what will become a new main entrance to our downtown from Hwy 77.

During the ceremony I kept thinking of the old adage the “Good things come to those who wait.” But we all know they don’t usually come without someone doing a lot of work. It takes a core of visionary, dedicated, hardworking people making sure the good thing finally gets here. We have the City of Norman because of vision, persistence and hard work. We got a University, annexed land, built a lake and brought downtown back to a new vitality because of vision, persistence and hard work. Now we have NORMAN FORWARD because of vision, persistence and hard work. Thank you to all of those special people in our past who have given us the community we have today. Thank you to all the special people that are working today to make our community what we want for tomorrow.