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Designing a library to serve both the public and a junior high school is proving more difficult than mastering the Dewey decimal system.

Highland, Alpine and Alpine School District officials and residents are wrestling with several questions regarding the book collection, library cards and checkout procedures as they work to open the Mountain Ridge Community Library. Compounding the problems is a lack of books.The library at the new Mountain Ridge Jr. High School will try to meet the needs of schoolchildren and adults.

"Everywhere we've gone, people have said this won't work," said Sheldon Worthington, Mountain Ridge principal.

Worthington said officials have found few school district-city library partnerships across the country. Some attempts to serve both groups in other states have failed. The types of books in school and public libraries often differ.

"We're setting precedents here and treading on new ground," said Diana Mills, Mountain Ridge PTA president, who's helping raise money for library books.

But residents and city and school officials are determined to make it work. "We have an opportunity to be a model, not just for the area, but for the country," Worthington said.

Librarian Linda Bushman intends to run a media center for students during the day. They will not be allowed to check out books in the public collection. Computer bar codes on the books will identify the collection each book belongs to.

Every weekday, except Fridays, at 3 p.m. the center turns into a public library. It's scheduled to open to the public at the end of September.

In addition to the organizational difficulties, the library has another big problem - empty shelves. The school district spent $120,000 on approximately 5,000 books, about half of what Bushman says the library needs. She has only $5,000 to spend on books this year.

A book drive earlier this year yielded some decent books but also many useless ones. "We've had Avon catalogs. We've had coloring books," Bushman said.

Alpine and Highland residents have organized Friends of the Library to help raise an estimated $150,000 to stock the shelves with new books. It has received about $10,000 in donations to date.

"We couldn't have everybody in Alpine and Highland check out a book because we wouldn't have anything left," Mills said.

Mills is spearheading a "read-a-thon" that will involve some 3,000 schoolchildren in the two cities. Students will secure pledges from residents for each book they read. World Book Educational products will donate $1 for every $2 raised.

Alpine and Highland will provide ongoing subsidies for library operations. The cities budgeted $18,000 and $40,000, respectively, this year.

"My idea is to have a library that is almost as accessible as the TV at home," said Alpine Mayor Joel Hall.

Highland Mayor Ed Scott said with all the needs the city has, specifically water and sewer systems, wants aren't easy to fund. "But right at the top of our want list is this library," he said.

Even though creating a community library hasn't been easy, residents prefer it over paying the $56-a-year nonresident fee at the American Fork Library. "Many were resentful of having to do that," Worthington said.