By BOB WATSON
Mount Carroll District Library Board of Trustees President Laurel Bergren fittingly summarized the official groundbreaking ceremonies Saturday morning, April 30, for the library’s new $2.6 million addition and expansion.
“This is our entire community. Today is our amazing day!” she said, while an enthusiastic crowd of spectators applauded warmly and loudly.
Immediately following, a dozen people consisting of library and city representatives along with the general contractor, all sporting white hardhats, took gold-plated shovels in hand and performed their official duty of digging small amounts of earth to signify the start of the long-awaited project.
The addition and expansion project will add 7,289 square feet of library space, address ADA accessibility, add modern restrooms, and rehabilitate the historic Carnegie building portion while maintaining its historic integrity.
Winter Construction of Freeport will be doing $2,606,992 project, which is being funded through a $1.15 million Illinois State Library Public Construction Grant as well as a match from the library. More than 200 individuals along with the City of Mount Carroll contributed approximately $1.19 million to the project.
Board of Trustees President Bergren, noting past community residents experienced “their amazing day” 115 years ago in 1907 when the two-story library, funded in part by a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, was constructed, said the lengthy process to reach Saturday’s groundbreaking lasted more than a decade.
“(Former Librarian) Joan Hough was the first person to tell me, ‘We need a bigger library,’” said Bergren. “It took 11 years of planning and fundraising” to make the expansion project a reality.
Bergren praised the dedication and service of former and current librarians, library trustees, library staff, Friends of the Library members, the November 2012 auction of the Nathan Hale sculpture for $140,000, along with many others who gave their complete support to the dream of an addition to the library.
“It required all of us, our community working together,” she said. “Together, we have made this amazing day.”
Bergren said there have been more than 220 financial contributors to the project, as well as major donations from the City of Mount Carroll and the William J. Davis Trust.
Donations continue to be received and will be used to help purchase furniture and fixtures for the new space. An estimated $125,000 will be needed to purchase the furniture and fixtures, with almost $75,000 of that just for bookcases.
Construction was scheduled to begin Monday, May 2, and is expected to continue for six months, with a targeted completion date in October, said Scott Winter of Winter Construction.
Library officials said construction will not impact library hours and services. The library's summer children's program will be held off-site this year through various field trips.
Concluding her remarks at Saturday’s ceremony, Trustee President Bergren, who has been instrumental in guiding the addition project to reality, read a quote from “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” written by Dr. Suess in 1990 at the age of 90:
“You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So, get on your way.”
To which the broadly smiling Bergren added, “Today is our amazing day.”