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Clermont enjoying more nooks for books with its library expansion 

POSTED: September 5, 2013 12:06 a.m.

Sandra Cantrell, president of the Clermont Historical Society, which manages the newly renovated library for the city, shows historical photographs of Clermont as well as a few of the models of town buildings built - some from memory - by Robert Allison. "We call it 'Mr. Allison's Neighborhood,'" Cantrell said of the display, which will be up for Clermont Days on Sept. 20 and 21. "It's the whole town and then some," she said.

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It has been more than a month since renovations were finished at the Historic Clermont DIP Library, and local reactions have been positive.

“It has become a real cornerstone of the community because it has provided a place to allow people to gather,” said Sandra Cantrell, president of the Clermont Historical Society, which operates the library.

“Our biggest base is children, and now students have a place to go study and read,” she said.

The volunteer-staffed library was housed in the side room of a local gymnasium but following underuse of the building and an infusion of revenue from the special purpose local option sales tax, town officials decided to expand the library into the rest of the building.

The additions include a new media room that will eventually house computers and books, an expanded concessions area, bigger restrooms and an auditorium, which can accommodate 200 people seated with tables and more than 300 with theater seating.

The building will be used to house different events and will be available to rent for private functions, Clermont Mayor James Nix said.

“One couple is considering having their wedding there,” he said. “We’re also having a beauty pageant, an old-time country dance and several events for our upcoming Clermont Days festival.”

The total cost of the renovations was $478,520.

The library was created by local residents after countywide budget cuts caused their library branch to close. The residents were further frustrated by the county decision to build the North Hall Technology Center off Nopone Road instead of opening a library in Clermont.

“People up here voted for SPLOST and thought that the money was going to a library in Clermont,” Nix said. “At the same time, we had this building that wasn’t being used and was costing the town money to keep.

“It was a good situation to convert it into a library.”

The historical society, with local support, reached an agreement with the town’s government to operate the library in exchange for a space to house the society’s office. The “DIP” in the name is in honor of the town’s original name Dip, which was changed in the early 20th century, and now stands for “Discovery in Programs,” Nix said.

All of the books in the library were donated, and its current supply exceeds available space. Boxes of books are being stored until the library can raise the funds for more bookcases.

Most books came from local residents, and the Mount Vernon Exploratory School’s student council donated more than 800.

“We had people bring in bags and boxes of books,” Nix said. “Some of them are still in boxes because we don’t have a place to put them.”

The historical society already has several events planned to help raise the money to pay for more library supplies such as bookshelves and computers.

During the Clermont Days Centennial Festival on Sept. 20 and 21, the historical society will be conducting a used book sale to sell off its duplicate books, a “cake walk” to sell donated cakes and, on Oct. 26, the library will host an old-fashioned contra and square dance.

“I hope everyone will come out to the Clermont Days festival,” Cantrell said. “If you haven’t been before, this year is going to be the best.”

The library is open 2-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information, contact the library at 770-983-9064.


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