Jane Hunt Meade and Bryan Hunt have given $5 million for J.B. and Johnelle Hunt and family to name the Fayetteville Public Library Center for Innovation and the new courtyard area, Gathering Glade, said Roxanne Hazelwood, development manager for the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation.
Fayetteville Public Library announced Tuesday (Oct. 6) the gift will go toward a $50 million project to renovate and expand the public library. The project will add more than 82,500 square feet to the existing library at 401 W. Mountain St. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Hazelwood said, adding “we are currently shooting for the first week of December, COVID allowing.”
The late Johnnie Bryan “J.B.” and philanthropist Johnelle Hunt, the chairman of Hunt Ventures in Rogers, co-founded Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. Jane Hunt Meade and Bryan Hunt are their children.
“We are grateful to the Hunt family for their generosity, and we are excited to show the community what was made possible with their gift,” said David Johnson, executive director of the Fayetteville Public Library. “With the kindness of residents like the Hunt family, we know that our renovated building will become a touchstone of the Northwest Arkansas region.”
In August 2016, Fayetteville voters approved $26.9 million for the project, and the library foundation has a goal to raise the remaining $23 million to complete the project. In March 2019, Fayetteville philanthropist Jim Blair announced a $2 million donation for the library’s capital campaign, Beyond Words. Blair’s lead gift of $3 million helped establish the existing 88,000-square-foot Blair Library, which opened in 2004.
Features of the renovated library will include a 700-seat multipurpose space; a center for innovation with audio and video recording studios, a photography studio, a simulation lab, a virtual reality lab, fabrication, and robotics lab and editing suites; and a 16-station teaching kitchen. Link here for more information on the Beyond Words campaign.