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Barton Public Library is ready to show off some changes to the building and landscaping with an open house set for Saturday.

The event, set for 2-4 p.m. Saturday, will showcase some of the latest projects of the Friends of the Barton Library, a group meant to support the local library, promote literacy and encourage a love of books. The projects include new landscaping and a new indoor layout meant to help accommodate existing growth and facilitate future growth at the county’s flagship library.

Nancy Arn, the library’s interim director. said the new layout includes enlarging the children’s area and adding new computers and tablets into the teen area, as well as some new furniture.

“Our children’s program has been increasing,” Arn said. “It was crowded a lot of times … we couldn’t fit all the kids in.”

That won’t be an issue moving forward with the expanded space, she said, adding that the library also added a reading room and tutoring space, as well as expanded its available meeting space.

“We’ve had a good response for that,” Arn said.

Marilyn Joyner, with the Friends group, said the group started in the 1980s but more or less became defunct in the last few years. Maureen De Bruin, also with the Friends group, said a steering committee was formed with the goal of revitalizing the group so it could get back to offering financial and volunteer help to the library.

“We’re starting over,” De Bruin said. Both De Bruin and Joyner worked at Barton Library when the Friends group was very active in the community.

The landscaping project at the library was funded through grants and a personal donation from Mike and Phena Loftin for $500. All together, nearly $10,000 was used to renovate the exterior grounds, and the project was completed in September by Donna Pittman King of Pittman Nursery, out of Magnolia. A new group, Library Garden Friends, took over care of the grounds in January, after the Union County Master Gardeners voted to discontinue the library as a sanctioned project.

During the open house Saturday, a dedication will be held for the landscaping project at 2:30 p.m.

The open house Saturday will include refreshments, door prizes and giveaways, as well as offer opportunities for people to join the Friends of the Barton Library group. To join the group costs $5 annually for an individual or $10 annually for a family. A lifetime membership is offered for $100, which includes parents and children under the age of 19. Members will be given first choice at half price at future book sales, which are held several times throughout the year.

For more information on the Friends group or the open house, contact the Barton Library at 870-863-5447 or stop by the library at 200 E. 5th St.

Madeleine Leroux can be reached at 870-862-6611 or

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