Update July 22, 2022: The board may have found a site and needs to secure funding to purchase it. We will keep you updated as we can!
Update April 11, 2022: Did you know that your library has served the community for over 100 years? In fact, your library just celebrated its 107th birthday. Since 1915, the library building has been in a school house, a basement, a house, and currently resides on the corner of High and Walnut Street. The oldest part of the current library was built in 1962, with 2,000 square feet added in 1997, when your library leadership underwent a building campaign to remodel the library. A quarter of a century later, your thriving 5,500 square foot library is bursting at its seams.
For years the Library Board, Director, team, and community have talked about the need for more space. In 2021, when developing the library’s 2021-2025 strategic plan, a heavy emphasis was placed on addressing this need. In May 2021, an exciting piece of mail brought the conversation to the forefront and building project planning began. The piece of mail was addressed to the Board President, Audrey Kevan. Audrey opened the envelope at the start of the monthly meeting and almost cried. Inside the envelope was a check from Judy Ostrom for $50,000.Judy wrote this check in memory of her late parents, Marshall and Lorraine Petersen, citing “My parents would be pleased to know that in a small
way, they helped others to find their own pleasure in reading.” Judy’s dad, along with her uncle, built the original library (on this site) in 1962. During public comment board members and the director expressed their excitement about this incredible gift to the library. At the June 2021 meeting a decision was made to set aside
the money in a special building fund and begin pricing feasibility studies.
Fast forward to April 2022, two space needs assessments have been completed. These assessments were the first step in determining how much space the library needs, projecting into the future 20 years. Both assessments suggested that the library should be at 20,000-22,000 square feet to meet the community’s needs. The next step was hiring a company to help with a feasibility study. Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc (SEH) was hired and first researched the feasibility of a building expansion, the library staying where it is with an addition. Since hiring SEH, the Library Board, Director, and City Administrator have researched each and every option to make an expansion work. An addition would mean losing most green space, sacrificing almost10,000 square feet, and not addressing the need for accessible parking. Deeming an addition on the current site unfeasible, leadership investigated opportunities for expansion onto neighboring lots. The neighbor on High Street was very interested in working with the library, but a meeting with the City deemed that option unfeasible as well. The cost of vacating that portion of the alley, moving powerlines and fiber, plus purchasing and knocking down that home could mean up to an additional $365,000. The Director investigated options to build up, and the cost of additional staffing and annual elevator maintenance would far exceed the library’s annual budget.
All efforts to keep the library where it is, while still giving the community what it needs, has left library leadership with the realization that, despite the beautiful history of this building and this location, the library has to move for the library (and thus the community)to move forward. While changing locations is hard to fathom, there is great potential with moving. Starting fresh means a new library can be built with accessibility in mind, with a parking lot instead of street parking. Starting fresh also means the library can be built with community in mind, providing more meeting space and flex space to provide resources beyond books. Starting fresh also means that the library can continue to serve the community at its current location while building. The goal is a new library in 5 years that is fully funded through a campaign, grant writing, and hard work. We invite you, a valued community member, to take the journey with us. We think you’ll like the final product. If interested in supporting this project, checks can be made payable to Spooner Memorial Library with “Building Project” listed in the memo or in a note. If you provide a return address, we’ll send you a receipt. All gifts are tax deductible.