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DeKalb library board talks grant funding

DeKALB – Library Director Dee Coover believes $2 million will be spent on the DeKalb County Public Library, whether it expands or not.

At the library board’s special meeting Tuesday, Coover said the library’s roof, heating and air conditioning system, and floors all need extensive work done on them within the next couple of years. Expanding the library will solve these problems, as well as give it more space, she said.

“If we do nothing, somebody is going to spend $2 million ... on this building without any improvement,” Coover said.

Coover said she is optimistic about the board organizing a fundraising plan by June 1 so it can take advantage of a $8.5 million Illinois Public Construction Grant.

Coover said private philanthropy will be a major component of the fundraising, but the city of DeKalb could borrow money to help the library.

Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu said this is a possibility. Like other officials, Espiritu said the $8.5 million grant could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the library.

“We should try to take advantage of it as best as we can for the good of the community,” Espiritu said. “If the library board decides bonding is necessary, the [DeKalb City Council] will have to issue those bonds because the library is technically a component of the city.”

No official borrowing proposal has been made, but Espiritu mentioned the possibility of setting a ceiling for the bonds, similar to what the council has done for the new police station.

A number of questions remain unanswered about the project, including how much the library needs to raise, and in what form that fundraising can come in.

If a donor offers to give $10 million over the next three years, what does she count it as? Coover asked.

“I need to know the language that the bank is going to use, the state will require from the library board, and the city,” Coover said.

Meanwhile, the board spent a portion of their time Tuesday thinking of different things in the renovated library whose naming rights could be auctioned off. They did not go over prices for how much something like a meeting room or reading room could cost.

The last time the library, formally known as the Haish Memorial Library, has seen an expansion was 40 years ago. If all goes to plan, the 19,000-square-foot building will get a three-story expansion that would stretch west across Third Street, adding 48,000 square feet to the building.

The library will hold another special meeting at 7 p.m.Tuesday so they can prepare for a presentation Jan. 28 to the City Council.

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