The Finney County Historical Society’s research library is about to get a lot bigger.

On Monday, the Finney County commission approved an allocation of up to $2,500 in assistance to the Finney County Public Library as it transfers books and records belonging to the Finney County Genealogical Society to the historical society’s research library.

Commissioner Dave Jones said the genealogical society has a contract to store its books and records at the public library, but library staff has requested that the materials be transferred somewhere else before construction begins on the library’s portion of the county HVAC overhaul.

With about 400 boxes ordered to transfer the genealogical society’s materials that have been kept at the public library for decades, Historical Society Executive Director Steve Quakenbush said the addition will possibly triple the amount of reference materials available in the research library, judging by a rendering of the additional shelf space that will be added to hold the materials.

“As far as moving them is concerned, we’re kind of excited and happy,” Quakenbush said during the meeting.

When asked by Commissioner Duane Drees what the change means for the historical society in the long-term, Quakenbush said the transfer of space constraints would be nothing new.

“We’re tight everywhere,” Quakenbush said. “We’re extremely tight for small artifacts. We’re over capacity on large artifacts. We’re used to things being tight. Long-term, we’ll be a bit more selective on what we put into the library.”

Quakenbush said the transfer of materials to the historical society’s research library was preferable to putting them into storage, destroying them, or sending them somewhere else.

“We thought this is an important resource for the people in Finney County and beyond, and it dovetails in with the research purpose that our library is used for,” he said. “So yes, it does make it tighter for us, a whole lot tighter, but we think it’s worthwhile because of the value of the materials.”

The research library gets about 200 visits a year, according to Quakenbush, and the majority are considered “nonprofessional visits” by people doing genealogical research on their family, “so it makes sense that we would have that there,” he said.

Finney County Public Library Director Pam Tuller said the area would be used as a silent study area or a makerspace once HVAC construction is complete. She added that the room dedicated to the materials already is used predominantly as a quiet study space, rather than an area for people to actively research local genealogies.

“I have worked here for about four years, and I have probably helped about four people in there,” she said.

Quakenbush expects the transfer to begin ramping up mid-January, depending on the speed with which the shelves can be transferred and reassembled.

“Up until now, our library has had two main rows of shelving. What we’ll be doing is going to three main rows, plus running shelving over an extensive amount of the existing wall space,” he said after the meeting. “This will be a very large project for us, but when we were approached months ago about the possibility of absorbing the materials, we decided we want to proceed because we think those resources will be important to keep available to the people of Finney County and actually the people beyond Finney County.

The research library is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

In other business, County Administrator Randy Partington was reappointed to the Community Corrections Advisory Board for a two-year term set to begin in February and expire in January 2020.

Contact Mark Minton at mminton@gctelegram.com.