Improvements Planned for
Itta Bena Library

By David Monroe
City Editor
The Greenwood Commonwealth
Greenwood, Mississippi

Monday, June 15, 2009 11:45 AM CDT

The Itta Bena Public Library will get more books, computers and a little
sprucing up in the coming months thanks in part to a $50,000 grant
from the Foundation for the Mid South. Photo by Charlie Smith.

     Big improvements are planned at the Itta Bena Public Library in the coming months, including more books, computers and a general sprucing up of the building.

The work is funded by a $50,000 grant from the Foundation for the Mid South.

Sarah Wynn, director of administrative services for the Atlanta-based Rural Library Project Inc., is overseeing the administration of the grant. She said she first visited the Thurman Street site earlier this year with Dan White, the Rural Library Project’s director of program services, and thought it had a lot of potential.

“There’s a nice collection in there, and I think it just needs to be updated and refreshed,” she said. “I think it can be just a wonderful resource for everyone in Itta Bena, from infants to the elderly.”

Four computers will be installed for public use, and a fax machine and a copier will be put in. The books to be added will include more up-to-date reference materials.


Other planned renovations include landscaping, painting and new flooring. The goal is to make both the interior and exterior of the building warmer and more inviting, Wynn said.

Under the grant requirements, the work must be done by Sept. 30. Wynn said the schedule is still being developed, but any work that requires moving items out will be done first.

“We have to do the floor pretty quickly, so we’re trying to move forward with that,” she said.

Wynn said they hope to work with local electricians and other local people on the construction.

The grant was tailored specifically to the Itta Bena facility, and Wynn worked with Mayor Thelma Collins to assess its resources.


Some new books already have come in, purchased with the help of a grant from the Libri Foundation. Dr. Annie Payton, director of the James Herbert White Library at Mississippi Valley State University, has helped with book selection, and Wynn said she hopes to gather input from a committee of citizens.

Wynn also hopes the library will be able to add even more books with the help of Usborne Books’ “Literacy for a Lifetime” matching-grant program.

The library once was a branch of the Greenwood-Leflore Public Library but now belongs to the city of Itta Bena.

After its librarian retired about two years ago, it closed for a little over a year. Collins said she worked hard to make sure it would reopen before the 2008-2009 school year.

“The library’s such an asset to the community that I just decided that it had to be open for the children,” she said.

The library is currently staffed by two volunteers and two young women who are taking part in a summer youth employment program. A summer reading program for preschoolers begins today.

Wynn said libraries can be magical places for those who love reading. They’re a great tool for lifelong learning, and they especially benefit small towns where residents might not have Internet access, she said.

“Some people feel like the Internet will replace libraries,” she said. “I don’t think that’s going to be the case, at least for a long time.”

L-R: Patrick, Daijzon, Angel, and JT come to inspect the renovation
work taking place in late July at the Itta Bena Public Library.
They can't wait for the library to re-open in September.

Update:  Itta Bena Library Work Almost Complete

With just a little more time, officials say renovations to the Itta Bena Public Library will be nearing completion.

The improvements, including new books, new infrastructure and new technology, are provided by a $50,000 grant from the Foundation for the Mid South, overseen by Rural Library Project Inc. based in Atlanta. Stipulations of the grant included that the work be done prior to Sept. 30.

Itta Bena Library Now Open!


Renovations at Itta Bena Library Generate Excitement

By David Monroe
City Editor
Wednesday, November 11, 2009 11:05 AM CST

Many people worked hard to bring about improvements to the Itta Bena Public Library, and the result should make the town proud, Mayor Walter Parker says.

Parker and others spoke Monday at the grand opening for the library, which has undergone extensive renovations. The work was done with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Foundation for the Mid South.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Copyright 2009 - Greenwood Commonwealth

A Congratulatory Letter

Friends of the Whitesburg Public Library
Post Office Box 451
Whitesburg, Georgia 30185

August 4, 2009

 Mayor Walter Parker
City of Itta Bena
Itta Benna, Mississippi

Dear Mayor Parker,

     On behalf of the Friends of the Whitesburg Public Library on the anniversary of our first year as a public library created in collaboration with the Rural Library Project Inc., we would like to extend our congratulations to you and the City of Itta Bena on the re-establishing of your public library in collaboration with the Foundation for the Mid South and the Rural Library Project Inc.
     Whitesburg is a small town of 550 people in West Central Georgia, and we can testify to the incredibly positive impact our public library has had on our town and the surrounding area.  In one year of operation we enrolled 125 children in our summer reading program, generated more than 300 new library cards, conducted workshops in creative writing, and built tremendous community involvement and engagement through this wonderful resource.  Many of our patrons did not have access to other libraries.  We know your newly re-opened library will have the same impact in your town as well.
     In celebration of this achievement, the Friends of The Whitesburg Public Library in partnership with the Rural Library Project Inc. would like to present to the Itta Bena Public Library a 40-volume set of the Great Books for your reference collection.  This set of books represents the major literary achievements of Western civilization and will be an invaluable part of your collection.
     The Friends also would like to suggest that our two libraries establish an ongoing sister library partnership so that the children in our towns be connected through their library activities.
     We congratulate you, the City of Itta Bena, your library volunteers, the Foundation for the Mid South and the Rural Library Project  Inc. for the creation of this wonderful resource for all of Itta Bena and environs.

 Best wishes and continued success,

Jackie Pate


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