Historic library receives grant following safety concerns

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DEFUNIAK SPRINGS Fla. (WMBB) — The longest continually operating library in DeFuniak Springs is getting some important funds for the future.

The Walton-DeFuniak Library is over 130 years old, but recently, some safety concerns have turned up.

“Noticed from her desk the light fixture started to slip out of the ceiling,” said Walton County Library Director Caitie Cerise.

Before Walton-DeFuniak Library staff could contact anyone, the light fixture crashed into the children’s area.

“We were quite thankful nobody was there at the time,” said Cerise.

But that has not been the only traumatic experience this year. With historic buildings comes to a tall order for maintenance and this library has quite the list.

“We have some buckling of the walls, and shifting that has caused windows and doors to have some difficulty opening, she said. “As we go to the additions, we’ve had some issues with leaking and water coming in, we have a crack in the foundation that does cause some flooding.”

Unfortunately, some historic books were damaged.

“Unsalvageable, so unfortunately we’ve had to block off and a portion of that part of the library and it’s unusable,” she said.

The City of DeFuniak Springs decided to take steps to save the library. They have secured a grant for $50,000 with the Florida Division of Historical Resources. 

“With historical buildings comes high price tags, so we have received this grant in order to hire an architect.”

Once an architect is selected and starts their work on the historic library, the hope is they will be done within roughly a year. Library staff said once that is complete, they are hoping the library will be able to stick around for another 130 years.

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