After 40 years, Columbia community welcomes new library

After 40 years, Columbia community welcomes new library

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia neighborhood says it wants its library back after theirs was closed more than 40 years ago.

After 46 years at Hill's Barbershop on Elmwood Avenue in Columbia's Edgewood community, Moses Felder still loves what he does, and it's more than just a job.

"It's a business, but to me, it's a community center," Felder said.

Just a couple steps away is an abandoned Dollar General. But soon, it'll take on a new role as a library. Felder is excited about that.

"Once the word gets around, you will see that it will be very well used," Felder said.

He remembers the day they had another library in his neighborhood off Harden Street, a segregated library that was ultimately closed more than 40 years ago.

Alex Furgess remembers that too.

"Forty years and we still don't have a library. Forty years and our community has not had access. We have not been able to access freely," Furgess explained.

Richland Library says it's changing that, using the old Dollar General.

"A lot of things to make this happen. It's something we've been talking about and wanting to do for years," Melanie Huggins, Richland Library Executive Director said.

Councilman Seth Rose said it will also be a place for young people to access WiFi.

"There's a lot of children that needs access to computers, that need access to WiFi, that may not have the monetary resources to have them in their home," Rose said.

Felder knows all about that. He installed WiFi in his shop to help young students who need it for homework and other things. Some would even sit outside after he closed for the night to use it.

"And that was kind of heart breaking for something like that," Felder said.

Now, there's hope.

"They've been so excited to hear that," Felder said. "That's good news to the whole community."

In a meeting on Thursday, at least one neighbor expressed concerned that the building for the library isn't big or nice enough, but library staff said don't judge a book by its cover.

The Columbia Housing Authority is leasing the building to Richland Library for just one dollar a month. The library is hoping the community will continue to be involved as they design the $2.2 million branch over the coming months.

It's expected to open in Summer 2018.

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