Full Speed Ahead For DeKalb Library Expansion

Jul 25, 2014

Saturday's groundbreaking for a $24 million dollar library expansion can't come soon enough for Dee Coover. The library director walked into her office this week to sweltering temperatures. She called to get the problem fixed and heard a familiar refrain from workers.

"It's been remodeled several times so everything is in the way of what I am trying to work on. It's just that everything is old...antiquated," said service technician Chad Phund.

Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

He's been called to the to 80-year-old building several times to "put band-aids on band-aids."

That's part of the reason Coover is ready to break ground on a large-scale construction project that will include new heating and air units throughout.

Starting this weekend, Third Street will be closed in order to make way for a 46,000-square-foot addition. (Temporary parking will be at two lots across the street from the construction site on Oak Street.) 

A lot of the work in the early months of the project with include behind-the-scenes and underground work. By fall, patrons will notice the new building begin to take shape. Next year, workers will renovate the existing facility. In all, the project will take about two years. 

Half of the money for the expansion comes from a state grant. Around $3 million is expected from local gifts.

Coover says Saturday's groundbreaking turns the fundraising focus to public donations.

Coover says a major component of the new building will be a specialized area for teens. She says several librarians will be dedicated to setting up activities for teens and have additional training to serve as mentors for these younger patrons.

"We have all of those people already on staff. We are not increasing the operating costs. It's just that we haven't had any room to do what we want to do," Coover said.

Coover says the library must report quarterly to the state to fulfill the requirements of the grant.

"They've already told us we will be audited, and we say 'bring it on.'