New Library for Downtown Knoxville?

The effort to build a long-needed new central library in the downtown area has suffered one setback after another over the last several years, as a wheel-tax revolt resulted in scuttling one funding source, and as one prospective location after another was taken out of play in downtown’s unpredictable real-estate market. As of this month, the new library seems to be vigorously on, and perhaps more realistically than previous dreams.

A non-profit known as the Knox County Public Library Foundation, associated with Friends of the Library, has been working behind the scenes for a grand new plan. In collaboration with the library itself and some very generous allies, the group is firming up plans for a spot on World’s Fair Park. (Contrary to some rumors it does not involve any coup of the underused convention center.)

The proposal, which involves major new construction, promises to solve the library’s problems with overcrowding, serving a county population almost twice the size of the one served 40 years ago, at the time of the construction of the current oft-crowded Lawson McGhee Library—which was built long before the era of personal computers, a major draw to modern libraries. But relief won’t come too soon. The proposal is imaginative and complex and probably several years in fruition. Details to come.

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