By SAMANTHA PIDDE
A presentation on the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion project at the Mount Carroll District Library was given last week to the Mount Carroll City Council.
During the City Council’s Tuesday, Oct. 27, meeting held via Zoom, Laurel Bergren, president of the library’s Board of Trustees, discussed the library's "Rehab & Expand 2021" project, which will add 7,289 square feet of library space while addressing handicap accessibility. It will also rehabilitate the Carnegie building while maintaining its historic integrity.
During her presentation, which included a 3-D model of the proposed building design, Bergren said she has been asked if "libraries are even relevant" today. She spoke about the various programs Mount Carroll's library offers and that it provides a gathering place and community resource for the city.
Bergren reported that in 2019, 8,592 people went into the library and that 1,680 people attended 154 programs. She said the library circulates an average of four items per hour. She also noted that the building's computer stations are utilized by people filing for unemployment, applying for legal aid or simply playing games.
"We just don't have any room," said Bergren, addressing one of the reasons for the proposed expansion.
She the building was built to serve 1,797 people, but is now serving 2,826. She reminded council members that in 2017, the library (at that time a "township" library) expanded its territory and added approximately 600 people.
The library began looking into the expansion project in 2012, selling a statue housed at the library for $125,000 for the project. In 2017, a $220,000 bequest was received.
The library applied for a state grant in 2019 and the Secretary of State’s office recently announced the library's eligibility for a $1.15 million construction grant.
With this grant, the library needs to raise $680,000 by February 2021. Bergren reported that in the past few weeks, the library has already received more than $40,000.
Bergren displayed the concept drawings from Winter Design, Inc., which includes ADA access and an elevator, as well as open spaces and a large "flexible space" in the basement which Bergren said could accommodate 100 people "theater style."
Mayor Carl Bates thanked Bergren for her presentation, saying, "That's an exciting project coming to our community.”
Council members asked about the type of fundraising being done and the February deadline. Bergren explained that due to the pandemic there has been a great deal of contacting people individually. The library is planning to launch a separate website for the project.
She agreed that the February deadline is a little tight, saying, "It's very aggressive. Interestingly, yes, I do believe it's doable."