Books get a new look in Boonville

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BOONVILLE — Community members in Boonville gathered Sunday in support of moving the Boonslick Regional Library (BRL) Cooper County Branch to a new building. 

The proposed new building is the Library Learning Center on the Kemper Military School Campus. The center was built in the early 1900s to serve as Math Hall, and was renovated in 1996 to serve as a library. However, it has been vacant since the State Fair Community College left the building in 2019. 

Mary Pat Abele, BRL Cooper County Board Member, organized the “Missouri History Tea” event for the community to explore the proposed building. 

“It would allow us to do more programming that we don't have the space to do now,” Abele said. “The collaboration between State Fair, and the library, and the YMCA, which is just down the street, provide some wonderful, wonderful opportunities for students and children and adults of all ages.”

Abele said the Cooper County Branch has needed a larger facility for over a decade. 

“We are sort of celebrating the opportunity that we are moving forward to move the library,” she said. 

The building still requires more renovations, including additional parking with attention to ADA accessibility and another staircase to connect all three levels. 

Ten-year-old Stella Rhodee volunteered at the event today, helping set up and make tea.

“Well I would like to have a little place to read books, to sit down and read my books,” Rhodee said. “So we can have a bigger space for more people to come and enjoy it.”

Abele is hopeful that the project will be complete by the end of the year. 

The “Cooper County Friends of the Library” and the Martin Auction Company will hold a book auction March 14. All proceeds will go toward new furniture for the building.