Librarian Pedro Chaves demonstrates Hoopla, Palestine Public Library’s new digital platform.

Palestine Public Library is beginning its search for a new location and adding a new digital service and new hours Thursday evenings.

In January, the Library Advisory Board approved a contract with a Dallas area architect to explore options for a future location. The Library Memorial Board, a separate nonprofit organization, will pay $26,000 in consulting fees for Maureen Arndt of 720 Design.

Two sites under consideration are the old Memorial Hospital site at 900 S. Sycamore St. and the John H. Reagan Building, home of the Museum of East Texas Culture at 400 S. Michaux St. in Reagan Park.

The City of Palestine already owns both sites, but each would call for different plans. The former John H. Reagan High School currently houses the Museum for East Texas Culture and would require extensive renovations. Building a library on the former Memorial Hospital site would entail new construction.

The city purchased the Palestine Mall in 2010 and moved the library there after the roof at the Cedar Street library collapsed in 2009. In 2019, however, the city sold the mall for $2 million to Christon Company of Dallas.

Interim Library Director Ana Sanchez said there is no urgent need for moving the library, due to an agreement with the mall’s new owner.

“We’re not being urged out,” Sanchez said. “We’re trying to take our time to make a plan.”

The process will involve community focus groups who provide feedback through online surveys and virtual meetings.

Cynthia Thornton, who has served on the library board since 2009, said she would like the library to have better visibility in the community and more meeting space for library programs, such as author talks and live performances for children.

“We’ve missed our ability to have programming die to a lack of meeting space,” Thornton said.

The library could also add new technologies such as 3-D printing and media development, she added.

While the board works to determine a new location by August 2021, the library continues serving patrons’ needs with a new digital service and two later hours each week.

The library recently added Hoopla at no charge to patrons to expand their access to resources. The media service allows patrons of all ages to borrow movies, television shows, music, ebooks, and audiobooks for use on computers, laptops, tablets, televisions, and smartphones.

Patrons can check out five items on Hoopla per month, but they must register for a library card and a personal identification number at the library. Patrons who already have a library card can sign up on the library’s webpage at www.youseemore.com/palestine or www.hoopladigital.com and call the library for a PIN.

Hoopla offers a combination of classics and newer titles with no waiting list. Publishers can limit the availability of items, but the service increases the library’s resources.

“The council asked us to add more digital content for patrons,” Sanchez said. “Due to COVID we’ve been trying to add more digital resources.”

The library’s new hours are 12 to 8 p.m. each Thursday to allow more patrons to use the library in the evening. Otherwise, the library is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. PPL reduced its hours to 40 per week in 2020 to comply with the governor’s reduced occupancy guidelines.

Members of the Library Advisory Board include Lynette Jackson, Breck Quarles, Thornton, Rhonda Herrington, Theresa Hamilton, Kaitlin Scroggins, and Portia Rogers.

The board meets at 11:30 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month via Zoom. Meetings can be viewed on Facebook and the city’s website. For information about the library, call 903-729-4121.

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