Jim Blair donates $2 million toward Fayetteville Public Library expansion

Jim Blair speaks at the kickoff celebration for the expansion of the Fayetteville Public Library in July.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Jim Blair this week helped kickstart a capital campaign to expand the Fayetteville Public Library.

Blair, a former attorney for Tyson Foods, gave $3 million to help build the current library, which opened in 2004. He announced a new donation on Monday to put toward the $23 million needed to complete the $49 million project

“I have dug through all my piggie banks, and my estate lawyer tells me I cant afford this,” said Blair. “But I want to announce today that I’m going to try to lead this off by giving the library another gift of $2 million.”

The library is named in honor of Blair’s late wife, Diane Divers Blair; his grandmother, Bessie Motley Blair; and his aunt, Dr. Mary Grace Blair.

“Jim Blair’s generosity to this library and to this community knows no bounds,” said David Johnson, the library’s executive director. “His latest gift is certain to inspire private support that is vital to the success of our $23 million capital campaign.”

The expansion will add 82,500 square feet of space to the facility, including several amenities. Among them, the project will double the size of the youth services area, add an audio/video recording studio, virtual reality room, photography studio, a simulation lab, a 700 seat multipurpose center, an outdoor courtyard, meeting and collaboration space, and more.

Fayetteville voters in 2016 approved a millage increase that will provide about $26.5 million for the expansion. The measure passed 59 percent to 41 percent. The library’s 1-mill property tax was then increased to 3.7 mills. 1.2 mills was allocated for construction bonds and 1.5 mills will be used for operating costs. Once the construction bonds are paid off, the tax will be lowered to 2.5 mills.

For more information about the expansion, visit beyondwordsfpl.org.