Russellville receives Norris property for future library

A new library for Russellville is one step closer to reality, as the Norris family donated their property to the city to build a library in memory of the Norris family and all their contributions to the city.

The property lies directly behind city hall, at the intersection of Lauderdale Street and Coffee Avenue. The city will have five years to build a new library on the property, with an option for an additional five-year extension depending on funding.

“This is a great day for the City of Russellville,” said Mayor David Grissom. “We are so thankful to the Norris family and all they have brought and continue to bring to this city.”

Russellville Public Library is currently located at the intersection of Lawrence Street and Coffee Avenue. The library has been at this location since 1994.

Plans are still being drawn up for the Norris Library, but the new facility will include a media center and meeting rooms for members of the community to use.

“We cannot wait to work with the Norris family on the floor plan that will benefit the community and advance the city,” said library board president Lela Ray.

Jackie Richardson – son-in-law to Leila Norris, married to Bunny Norris – said the idea to donate the property came up two years ago but hit several hiccups because of design issues and COVID-19.

“This just felt like the right time and the right thing to do,” Richardson said. “We wanted some way for the City of Russellville to remember the Norris family, and this felt like the perfect thing to do.”

Congressman Robert Aderholt and Rep. Jamie Kiel said they are working with city officials to secure grants at the state and national level to provide additional funding for the project.

“One word comes to mind today, and that is community,” Aderholt said. “This is what community should be: citizens coming together to give back to the community.”

Lanny Norris said his family believes in education, and he knows his parents – Leila and Billy Norris – would be proud to know their property will be used as a site for the town library. “We are so thankful for the mayor and all of the council for everything they have done to turn this dream into a reality,” Norris said.

Grissom said the city is still working to secure funding for the project, but current plans are estimated to cost around $1.9 million.

The fence that currently divides the Norris property and city hall parking lot will be torn down, with plans to combine the parking lot for city hall and the library, once it is built.

“We are very excited to see this happening,” Grissom said. “We know this is going to bring a lot to the city.”