CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The startup library in Carl Junction has received solid support over the past few months, already beginning to outgrow its space in the media room of the community center.
Carl Junction’s Next Chapter, a volunteer committee with the aim of establishing the town’s first library, has received several monetary and book donations from the community after residents struck down the idea for a library tax.
The measure would’ve created and maintained a public library in Carl Junction by implementing a tax of 10 cents per $100 assessed valuation for the creation and maintenance of a public library, but voters rejected it 513-304 on April 2.
Given that local voters faced the library tax question and two other tax proposals on the April 2 ballot, rejection of the library proposition came as no surprise to the organizers, who immediately began exploring options of creating a free, volunteer-run library instead.
Councilwoman LaDonna Allen, a Next Chapter member, has been assisting with the project and secured approval from the City Council to purchase shelving and house the startup library in the community center’s media room. With the large number of gently used book donations, she said, the group is having to double its space and plan for expansion.
“When we started to see the overwhelming response to it, Carl Junction’s Next Chapter immediately knew this was going to take off and to start looking at long-term plans,” Allen said. “We thought we would maybe have some time before it outgrew the facility there. It’s already going to be bigger than that little room in the media center, so we’re going to line the media center with shelves and also have that little room.”
Katy Privett, Next Chapter secretary and an English teacher at Carl Junction Junior High School, said she wanted to be involved because reading is a large part of her class. Her three children — Adalyn, Kase and Emma — also love to read.
“I wanted to get involved because I can bring the school side of what the community could offer,” she said. “The support has been great. I can’t believe there are so many books to donate.”
The goal is to have the community library officially open to the public by Sept.1. Allen said the committee is working toward obtaining 501(c)(3) status to help better operate the library in the future.
"We are hoping once that (status) comes in, maybe we can get some corporate sponsorships and donations,” Allen said. “It kind of operates like a Friends of the Library, and that’s kind of like what the organization is. It’s going to be a goal to have an independent, free-standing library in its own location and getting that 501(c)(3) will be a big part of that because then I think we can really go out and do a fundraising campaign.”
Several individuals and businesses have already pledged funding for the cause. Allen said since libraries aren’t in competition with each other, they’ve received assistance from other groups including Friends of the Library-Oronogo, which started its own community library earlier this spring.
“The Oronogo Community Library has been really good, and we picked their brains when we started up,” Allen said. “They went through and pulled out 15 boxes of books for us that were just duplicates that they had. We’ve got 15 boxes donated from them, and they still said they have to go through their paperbacks, so we’ll have more.”
Businesses have stepped up to serve as book drop-off points for anyone who would like to donate gently used books for the Carl Junction library. Participating drop-off locations are the Carl Junction Community Center, the Carl Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, Joplin Floor Designs, Joplin House of Bounce, J.C. Penney, JoMo Moving, Horton’s Pizza Plus and Mimi’s Treasures.