The Hollywood Branch Library closed its doors last week for renovation and expansion. It's set to reopen next summer, and when it does, some new visitors will already be at home: officers from the Memphis Police Department (MPD).
An MPD mini-precinct has set up shop in the rear of the library on Hollywood Avenue, the first precinct to be installed in a local library. According to Rhonda Lee, MPD public affairs officer, the office is still without furniture, but it is up-and-running.
What was once the Hollywood-Douglass Co-Act Unit was split into two separate units. The library precinct is serving as the Hollywood unit. The same five officers who staff the unit will also be staffing the Douglass unit. Both units operate under the North Precinct.
"There was definitely a need in that area for a Co-Act unit," said Lee. "It's there as a resource for the people of that community. The officers in a Co-Act unit are trained to be more community-minded."
The area of the library building occupied by the MPD was previously owned by the Shelby County Health Department. Although it is located inside the library, a separate entrance will be used to enter the precinct.
"The police precinct was the city's idea, but we don't think it's a bad one," said Bobby King, a spokesperson for the Memphis and Shelby County Public Library. "It's not like they'll have a desk right in the middle of the library."
The library portion of the building is set to open next June, and according to King, the 6,250-square-foot branch will be expanded to 14,280 square feet. It will include new carpet, furniture, shelving, and several new computers. There won't be much of an increase in new reading materials.
"They already have a pretty sizable collection, so they're going to be taking better advantage of the space they have available," said King. "The shelves will be spread out and there will be more room in the children's area for public seating."
The $1.5 million renovation is being funded by the city of Memphis. n