A former data center owned by a bank in Ashford, Alabama is to be converted into a library.

WDHN reports that the Dothan Houston County Library System (DHCLS) Board of Trustees last week approved the terms of a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Facilities Loan to fund the renovation of the former data center to a new library.

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The existing library on Sixth Street – Google Maps

The single-story facility on Broadway Street was previously operated by MidSouth Bank.

MidSouth Bank reportedly donated the building to the Ashford Downtown Redevelopment Authority for use as a library after the data center was relocated to the company's Dothan headquarters following a site expansion.

“This new library will make such a positive difference for Ashford and for all of Houston County. Public libraries contribute so much to literacy, learning, quality of life, and economic development, and this will be no exception. I know that our board, our staff, and, of course, residents of Ashford are excited about seeing this project,” said Brad Kimbo, DHCLS board chair.

Construction on the new library will begin in early 2024 for completion that fall. The building will have windows added and a new glass door entrance constructed on the east side of the building, as well as some internal walls removed.

DHCLS’ existing library in Ashford is a couple of blocks away from the data center on Sixth Avenue, not on the town’s main thoroughfare. The Sixth Avenue site has been used as a library since the 1960s. The new site will span around 3,680 sq ft (342 sqm), up from the existing library’s 2,000 sq ft (185 sqm) footprint.

The library system has been fundraising for the relocation project since 2022 in an effort to raise around $1 million, and will continue looking to raise money.

“We have a great opportunity to get started sooner rather than later,” DHCLS Director Chris Warren said. “With the loan, the concurrent capital campaign, and all the partnerships that we’ve created along the way, we’ll be able to demonstrate how a small town in a rural area can have an incredible library. To think that Ashford can be that proof of concept is really exciting to me.”

Founded in 1912, MidSouth Bank is a regional bank serving Alabama and Florida. It was acquired by the Hancock Witney banking group in 2019 after which a number of locations in Louisiana and Texas were closed.

USDA Community Facilities Loans provide 'affordable funding to develop essential community facilities' in rural areas.