A $1.5 million expansion is now under way at Woodbury’s J.F. Adams Memorial Library.
When completed, the project is expected to meet the growth of its 5,500 registered users. Library officials say the 3,000 square foot addition will also update the original building including the community meeting room.
“It is the goal of the association’s board of directors to have raised the funds and open the building around the end of 2012 debt free,” said Austin Jennings, board member.
“The building is provided to the county at no cost,” Jennings said. “The county library board, named by the county commissioners, operates the library at a very nominal cost to the county and city, which funds only the salaries and utilities,” he said.
The library has the highest per capita circulation of any similar facility in Middle Tennessee.
In addition to books, computers and other services, the library offers a community meeting room in the lower level that is available for other non-profit organizations and other public uses at a fee less than the cost of heating and cooling.
Ironically, the library had its beginnings at the burial of its namesake, Dr. J.F. Adams.
Jennings was approached at the cemetery by Sol Berger and Leonard Friedman, the top executives of the Colonial Corporation of America. Together, the men discussed a proper memorial for Dr. Adams.
“It is generally conceded that Dr. Adams was one of our community’s most ardent supporters and had made the quality of life for our people much better by his influence,” Jennings said.
The three men decided that a statue was inadequate and something that would help the people of Cannon County was preferable.
It was Jennings who suggested the library project.
A few days later, a group of Woodbury businessmen, most being members of the Woodbury Lions Club, met at Hoyt Bryson’s law office and organized The Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Association. Plans were discussed for a fund-raising campaign to fund the project.
Among those in attendance were Sol Berger, Leonard Friedman, Hoyt Bryson, Ed Lehning, W.I. Womack, W.L. Richardson, Walden Wat-son, R.W. Hawkins, and R.H. Burke.
Jennings, the only sur-viving member of the group, was named chairman.
Current board members include Wilma Adams, Steve Smith, Barbara Parker, Gerald Molitor, Jackie Francis, Regina Merriman, Donnie Odom, Charlie Harrell, Angie Ott, Herb Alsup and Rita Allen, who serves as library director.
The association is incorp-orated as a non-profit corporation and was designated by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, providing the best opportunity to give donors full tax advantage of their gifts.
Before construction of the orginal library building began, Berger engaged the services of the same architect used in construction of his factory buildings and plans were drawn for the structure.
Mrs. Adams donated the lot next door to their home on College Street for the structure.
“A fund-raising campaign was launched and the people of the county were very generous to give a total of $85,000,” Jennings said.
After construction began it became obvious that the library could not be built for that amount of money, so the board went to the Bank of Commerce and borrowed $55,000.
“The bank discounted the note and it was paid off later. Mr. Berger provided approximately $80,000 of the entire $160,000 cost of the building. The building was dedicated in July 1966,” Jennings said.
Mrs. Adams and members of the family were very generous in providing additional pieces of property to the memorial organization.
Rental income from those properties provided funds to properly maintain the buildings and grounds. The Adams home was also deeded to the association following Mrs. Adams’ death.
By the fall of 1995 the est-ate of Mrs. Maedell Banks Rogers was settled and the association received a bequest of $135,000 which was added to the trust fund which now total well over $600,000.
These funds are invested to provide income for maintenance and upkeep as well as additions to the facility and equipment.
One major contribution to the library was the computerization of its catalog and connection to the internet.