Advertisement

Hunt family donates $5 million to Fayetteville Public Library expansion project

Bookmark this
October 07, 2020 By Stacy Ryburn

FAYETTEVILLE -- The largest single donation in the Fayetteville Public Library's history came at an opportune time, its executive director said Tuesday.

Jane Hunt Meade, whose parents J.B. and Johnelle Hunt founded the largest publicly owned trucking company in the United States in Lowell, announced the family will donate $5 million to the library's expansion project.

"I think in Northwest Arkansas, we've got it really good, and I'm really glad to be a part of it," Meade said. "We're really proud to be a part of this wonderful space."

The expansion, set to open in late November or early December, will add 82,500 square feet to the Blair Library on Mountain Street. Its courtyard, larger than the downtown square, will be known as the Hunt Family Gathering Glade. Its innovation center, which will feature simulation labs for truck driving, forklift and backhoe operation and aviation, will be named the Hunt Family Center for Innovation.

[GALLERY: Library's $5 Million Gift from Hunt family: http://nwamedia.photoshelter.com/gallery/Librarys-5-million-gift-from-Hunt-family-10-6-2020/G0000gi8RmlolmCs/C0000jKJdKVOyk48]

David Johnson, the library's executive director, said people will be able to get certified training in operating those vehicles. That's in addition to the studios for audio and video recording, podcasts, photography and a virtual reality lab, he said.

"Kids and adults alike can get hands-on, free training creating a capable workforce that will allow our citizens to go out and get higher wage jobs, resulting in a happier, healthier and educated community," Johnson said.

The announcement came more than a year after Jim and Nancy Blair gave the library $2 million for the project. The original building is named after Jim Blair's late wife, Diane Divers Blair; his grandmother, Bessie Motley Blair; and aunt, Mary Grace Blair. Jim Blair made a $3 million donation leading up the library's opening in 2004, bringing the total family contribution to $5 million.

The Blairs gathered with about 40 other people outside in the courtyard area to hear the Hunt family announcement. Attendees wore masks to help prevent the spread of covid-19.

Meade took a tour of the library expansion recently, as did her brother, Bryan Hunt, and the two were "blown away," she said. She likened the expanded library to The Jones Center in Springdale or Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville as "gems" of Northwest Arkansas.

"There will be no dusty bookshelves in there," Meade said.

The expansion will nearly double the 88,000-square-foot library. The space will double for youth services, including preschool, grade school and teen areas. Areas for people to collaborate, work, study and learn will increase. A 700-seat event center will serve as a midsized venue for a variety of functions.

In addition to the innovation center, genealogy research will get a dedicated section. More parking will accommodate more people. A teaching kitchen and deli will face West Avenue.

Voters approved a property tax increase in 2016 to pay for about $26.9 million of the library's nearly $50 million cost of construction and to support its expanded operation.

Johnson said the library has so far raised about $11 million of its $23 million fundraising goal. The gift came as the fundraising effort is gaining momentum, he said, and more announcements are planned soon.

The gift also came during a time when people are looking for something to look forward to, as the pandemic's economic toll has been felt across the nation, Johnson said.

"We have a reason to be thankful and optimistic," he said.

 

MORE NEWS

 

Web watch

To learn more about the Fayetteville Public Library expansion and its fundraising campaign, go to: beyondwordsfpl.org


Advertisement

Recent Articles

Bentonville museums to build parking deck with performance area

Bentonville museums to build parking deck with performance area

in Community News

A play area called Convergence and a six-story parking deck with performance space will be built on 4 acres on the southeast side of Crystal Bridges' 120-acre campus and the adjoining western edge of the Amazeum's property.

October 9, 2020 By Mary Jordan

The Secret's Out: Locally Shot Film Leads to More in Future

The Secret's Out: Locally Shot Film Leads to More in Future

in Entertainment News

"Max Winslow and the House of Secrets" was filmed in and around Bentonville last year and is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a few streaming services, following a successful theatrical run and tour of the festival circuit.

September 25, 2020 By Jocelyn Murphy

Walmart: Hiring 20,000 for Holidays

Walmart: Hiring 20,000 for Holidays

in Community News

The Bentonville-based retailer said in a news release Tuesday that it made the decision after noting the increase in online shopping over the past six months. Walmart said it expects the trend to continue as people shop for holiday gifts.

September 23, 2020 By Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Walmart to test drones in Northwest Arkansas

Walmart to test drones in Northwest Arkansas

in Community News

The retailer said Monday it will work with drone delivery firm Zipline to deliver select health and wellness products from a Walmart store near its Bentonville headquarters.

September 14, 2020 By Serenah McKay

Advertisement

Must Read Articles More News

2019 Best of Northwest Arkansas Winners Magazine

2019 Best of Northwest Arkansas Winners Magazine

in Best of NWA

Check out our 2019 Best of Northwest Arkansas Winners Magazine.

August 6, 2020 By Best of Northwest Arkansas

Travel Smart in a COVID-19 World

Travel Smart in a COVID-19 World

Many Americans’ summer vacation plans have been delayed or canceled due to safety concerns. However, making time for a mental break is important as individuals attempt to manage ongoing stress related to COVID-19.

August 11, 2020 By Best of Northwest Arkansas

Rethink Ingredients to Refresh Family Meals This Fall

Rethink Ingredients to Refresh Family Meals This Fall

If you’re looking to spice up your mealtime routines, especially during those busy school nights, you may find your solution in versatile ingredients that work for a multitude of dishes.

September 11, 2020 By Best of Northwest Arkansas

5 Ways to Save Big on Everyday Essentials

5 Ways to Save Big on Everyday Essentials

With many Americans spending more time at home, they are also using more common household items such as cleaning supplies, pantry items and snacks, among other things.

August 4, 2020 By Best of Northwest Arkansas