New SEOLS headquarters opens with dedication ceremony

·3 min read

Apr. 27—Staff from the Southeastern Oklahoma Library System of Oklahoma continued moving into their new building Thursday following an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Numerous well-wishers attended the event, held inside the new facility constructed through a $2.1 million project.

The building at 2820 N. Main St. in North McAlester is the new headquarters for the Southeast Oklahoma Library System.

Covering 7,000 square feet, the new headquarters allows SEOLS staff members to move from their current location in the basement of the McAlester Public Library, SEOLS Executive Director Michael Hull said.

All 11 of the SEOLS staff who currently work out of the McAlester Public Library will move into the new building, Hull said.

He said 85 SEOLS employees in Southeastern Oklahoma will be served from the new SEOLS headquarters in McAlester.

Those attending the ceremony included McAlester realtor Victoria Crowl, who presented a plaque to Hull commemorating the event.

Hull spoke of the benefits of moving into the new SEOLS headquarters.

"We're going to be more effective," Hull said. "Our hope is, the way we designed everything, we're going to be able to get everything in and out faster."

Hull said he's also proud of efforts to relocate the SEOLS offices in North Town, which he hopes will be beneficial to that part of the city.

McAlester Mayor John Browne also said the move can be beneficial for North Town.

"Having this in North Town is really great for McAlester," Browne said. He said it should help promote economic development, through enhancing quality of life.

SEOLS Marketing Coordinator Eddie Gray agreed.

"I'm an Old Town boy," Gray said of his roots in that part of McAlester. He said "proud" can't describe the way he feels about having the new facility in north McAlester.

"It will bring in more people; it's great," Gray said.

Hull said getting the new building has been a two-year process, paid for with existing SEOLS funds. It is separate from the expansion and renovation project underway at the McAlester Public Library.

SEOLS covers seven counties in Southeastern Oklahoma, with a total of 16 libraries and a bookmobile.

Along with Pittsburg County, SEOLS provides library services in Latimer, Haskell, LeFlore, Choctaw, McCurtain and Coal counties.

Moving into the new building will be helpful to SEOLS as well as the McAlester Public Library, Hull said. It provides more space for the SEOLS headquarters and will also open up additional space at MPL, he noted.

"It will provide more space for expansion," said Hull.

With the SEOLS headquarters new location on North Main Street, the former J.J. McAlester mansion, former home of the city of McAlester's founder, can be seen on the other side of a residential street.

Furniture and other items were already in place in the new SEOLS building, with more expected to be moved on Thursday and Friday.

Hopes are for SEOLS to be operating out of the building by next week, Hull said.

Working from the basement of the McAlester Public Library has not been an ideal location for the SEOLS staff.

"We're really glad for our employees," Hull said.

He also spoke of seeing the project come to fruition.

"It feels really good," Hull said. "It will enrich our community beyond books.

"I don't think most communities understand the role libraries can play in quality of life," said Hull.

"I think McAlester 'gets' it."