Originally Published: October 10, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Click here to see a photo gallery from Saturday's grand openingPRESCOTT VALLEY - Three hundred or more people marked the grand opening of the new Prescott Valley Public Library Saturday by listening to speeches and live music, taking tours, checking out books and engaging in other activities."I think it is just an awesome job," Reed Winfrey, receiving supervisor at Yavapai College, said after dignitaries concluded their speeches and cut ribbons, and a horde of people entered the building at 7401 E. Civic Circle. "This (library project) did not start during the recession. This has been going on for years. It's a welcome addition."Referring to a wing of the building that houses the new Northern Arizona University Yavapai campus, Winfrey said, "It is pulling us into the future. If it was open a year ago, my daughter would not be at the U of A right now."He works for an institution - Yavapai College - that joined forces with the town to pay for the 51,500-square-foot building, which cost an estimated $22 million overall. The library outgrew its 13,000 square feet that it occupied on the third floor of the Civic Center since 1999, the year that building opened.The library festivities began at 9:30 a.m. with speeches by town government officials and other dignitaries at a reviewing stand."This consummates 21 months of hard work," Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog said. "We're not quite done."Skoog recognized several other people at the reviewing stand, including Yavapai College President Jim Horton, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, NAU President John Haeger, President Ernest Calderon of the Arizona Board of Regents, Director GladysAnn Wells of the Arizona State Library and Stuart Mattson, Prescott Valley's library director for 22 years.Bennett, a Tucson native who grew up in Prescott, said Arizona has about 91 incorporated cities and towns - and 300 libraries."It is a great asset and blessing to have this new facility," he said.A fellow former Eagle Scout, Calderon, said the opening of the NAU Yavapai campus shows how Arizona university officials are coming up with "more creative" ways to spread higher education."You don't have to leave home to get a higher education," he said, adding 30,000 to 36,000 people are expected to earn bachelor's degrees a year in Arizona by 2020."We have to double our production of bachelor's degrees," Calderon said. With the audience in mind, he added, "We can't do that without your help."The audience saved the most applause for Mattson, who thanked the architectural firm of Richard and Bauer, the Friends of the Library, the Library Foundation board and others who made the new library possible. Mattson recognized former library employee Jo Becker for traveling from Aberdeen, Wash., to attend the event."I had to see what was happening," Becker said afterward inside the building.Becker, who retired in 2005, said she conducted a needs assessment study for Mattson in 1997 for a future library with 30,000 square feet. Barbara Jorgensen, who patronized the Friends of the Library bookstore, said she enjoys the new library's design, open space and expanded variety of books.