Expansion Project

Dreaming of the Future: What the Future Holds for Our Community’s Library Building

View from the east side of the building after expansion
View from the main entrance after expansion

Background and History:

The Library moved into its current building on Highway 150 in 2010. In 2007, as part of the planning for this building, a consultant advised the Library Board of Trustees that, based on the population and expected growth, a building of 26,000 square feet was needed. The initial plan presented to the community was for a building of that size, but in the end, the taxpayers approved funding for a 13,300 square foot building. That is the building you see today.

While the building is a beautiful structure, which has held up well in its first 14 years, population growth and the heavy usage of the building have made expansion necessary. Some of the issues we’ve experienced include:

  • The children’s area is jam-packed with kids and their adults, especially after programs.
  • Demand for the meeting room and study room far exceeds the capacity of our existing rooms.
  • Difficulty in providing quiet workspaces for those wanting to study.
  • Library shelves filled to capacity – while the total size of our physical collections barely exceeds the “minimal” standard for our population size, according to state standards.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, library users showed enthusiasm for programming held outdoors. Unfortunately, we have little shade for such events.

Planning for the Future:

In 2019, the Board of Trustees and staff began a wide-ranging process to determine the greatest needs for a library building designed to grow with the community over the next 20+ years. A four phase plan came out of several meetings with the library consultant and architects.

These phases include:

  • Phase 1: New Children’s Library and Teen Space
  • Phase 2: Large, Dividable Meeting Room
  • Phase 3: Covered Outdoor Patio/Program Space
  • Phase 4: Expansion of Adults Stacks and Teen Space

Phase 1: New Children’s Library and Teen Space

The largest and most prominent part of the expansion will be a new 7200 sq. ft. Children’s Library with a dedicated Teen Room. The children’s area is the most heavily used, and most crowded area, in our existing Library. The new space will have more room for children to read and participate in activities, and a glass wall will separate this area from the main body of the Library. The wall will help reduce sound in the rest of the Library. This space will take up a new wing located north of the existing children’s area.

Dedicated Teen Room

Libraries across the country have found that making a dedicated space especially for teens makes it far more likely that teens will use the library. We want our community’s teens to know that we welcome them and that we have a friendly space for them to use.

The portion of the main Library where our Teen Space currently sits will be redesigned to offer a second study room. This study room will be open to the whole community.

Phase 2: Large, Dividable Meeting Room

The Edgar Room, our only meeting room, is booked daily for library programs and public use, often hosting multiple events in a single day. Phase 2 features the addition of a significantly larger meeting room that can be subdivided into two rooms, which will double the number of groups we can serve.

The area that is currently the Edgar Room will become a social space for the community – a warm and welcoming room with comfortable chairs and lots of sunlight where the public can visit or have informal meetings such as bible studies or book clubs. This room will also offer a place to eat and drink while being productive.

Phase 3: Patio and outdoor programming space

One lesson that we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that our patrons really enjoy outdoor programming during warm weather months.. Unfortunately, the Library just doesn’t have any shade to offer protection from the sun during these events. Phase 3 includes a covered outdoor patio with space for programs, concerts, and even studying outdoors.

Phase 4: expansion of adult stacks and teen space

Our current goal is to complete the first three phases of this project all at once. Phase 4 is expected to take place at some point in the future, as funding allows. This phase includes an expansion of the adult collection space, seven new 1-2 person study rooms along the eastern wall, and an expansion of the teen area to include additional study space for teens.

Status of Expansion & Expected Funding

How and when we move forward on this project currently depends on the Public Library Construction Grant Act program, managed by the Illinois State Library. Through this grant program, our library could receive up to 43% of the project cost from the State of Illinois.

In both 2022 and 2023, the Library submitted a grant application focusing on Phases 1-3. Both years, we were notified that while we qualified for the grant, we would not receive it because no funding had been appropriated to the program that year. We recently submitted the application again for 2024. (This program is in a similar cycle prior to 2019. When the legislature did appropriate funds in 2019, the libraries who had repeatedly applied were the first to be funded.) Assuming a successful state grant, the Library Board plans to fund the project in the following way:

Expected Total Cost of Expansion:$7,400,000
State Construction Grant$2,750,000
Library Reserves$750,000
Donations from Individuals$1,500,000
Bonds Raised with Referendum$2,400,000

The Board believes it can fund these needed improvements while asking local taxpayers for less than one third of the overall cost. Due to the structure of existing financing, we expect that the bonds for this program could be done with no increase in tax rates, or a very minimal increase.

For more information, or if you would like to help, please reach out to John Howard, Library Director (director@mahometpubliclibrary.org) or Kevin Kelsey, Board of Trustees President (kkelsey@mahometpubliclibrary.org).