New library plans moving forward

Having received notice that it is eligible to obtain a state matching grant of more than $3.425 million, the Evans Public Library District is now ready to proceed with its plans for a new library.

Now, the district is continually working to generate its share of the matching grant, about $1.384 million.
At this point, the library district has received a $500,000 grant from the Old Capitol Foundation, and it has $600,000 to contribute to the match.
That means the district is concentrating on raising $300,000 to complete its match for the grant.
Evans Librarian Jessie Blain said that the library district received notification of the grant award in August.
In the letter that the Illinois Secretary of State sent giving notification of the district’s eligibility for an Illinois Public Library Construction Act Program grant, the SOS states that the grant will be finalized and awarded when:
• The local share of the grant is secured, by June of next year.
• A thorough review of the final detailed project budget has determined eligible project costs.
• A construction grant contract has been signed.
To raise its share, the library district’s plans include sponsorships of the new facility’s large community rooms and two smaller study rooms.
It also plans to offer engraved bricks that will be laid outside the library to generate more community donations, Blain said.
The district’s board of trustees began seriously looking at the construction of a new library since 2013, about three years after initial discussions.
The district plans to build a new facility off of Randolph Street, south of Jefferson Street and adjacent to the local railroad line.
The library will be built atop the hill at that location, with the entrance from the south being further west than the current drive, further away from the Eighth Street intersection, and also from the north off of Jefferson Street.
The district has submitted an application for a state grant in the past seven years, Blain said.
She said that the district had plans for a new library drawn up seven years ago, and that the new plans are similar, but scaled back.
The change is deleting a bay off of the rear of the new library, Blain said, adding that the bay could be added in the future if there is a need and there are funds available.
That area would have included more non-fiction and adult fiction. “But we would still have more space for that than we do now,” Blain said.
The plans for a new library call for a 15,752-square-foot structure.
“It would be double what we have now,” Blain said.
As has been the case for about the past decade, one big issue for Evans Public Library, Blain said, is “we’re running out of space.
“We can’t go to the north, we can’t go to the south and we can’t go to the west,” she said, talking about ways an expansion is not possible.
“We sometimes have to remove some books quicker than we like, because we don’t have enough room,” she said.
“We’re always buying new books, new DVDs, and we get magazines and newspapers every day. We buy all the new bestsellers.
“We try to make sure we have enough room,” Blain said. “We weed books probably every three to four months now, where it used to be once a year to two years.
“We have no parking,” Blain said. The closest parking space is in the city parking lots more than half a block away.
“The whole building is not ADA-compliant,” Blain said, citing another reason for a new library.
While some think that with the Internet, libraries are not used as much as in days past. Not true, Blain said.
“We’re busy every day,” she said. “People still read.
“We also have ebooks, people come in to study, and some people come in to do genealogy,” Blain said.
“It’s all free, and they can get movies free,” she said.
“Some people don’t have Internet access, so they come in to use computers,” Blain said.
“Some people can’t access the Internet from their phones, so they can come in to use our computers. We also have printers that both those with and without Internet access on their phones can use.
“And, we have a fax machine and a scanner, which a lot of people don’t have at home,” he said.
The new library would offer more electrical outlets for those using a laptop in the library, and more space for computer usage.
The library traffic, Blain said, “is pretty constant.
“Even with COVID, we’re not down in checkouts that much, not as much as I expected.
“We don’t have as many people congregating here, of course, because of COVID, so it looks like we’re less busy, but we are still busy,” Blain said.
“It’s more of people just coming in and out,” she said.
The library, in normal conditions, has some residents coming in to read newspapers, and Blain said the library allows residents to check out newspapers.


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