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Government Local

DeKalb library expansion plan gets name

DeKALB – The DeKalb library’s expansion campaign now has a name: “From Barbed Wire to Fully Wired.”

And now that they’ve met with state officials, library board President Clark Neher confirmed that the library needs to have $15.5 million in the bank by June so they can take advantage of an $8.5 million Illinois Public Library Construction Grant it was offered in December.

“We have a huge amount of work ahead of us,” Neher said.

Library officials and city leaders have been working for months to expand the 19,000-square-foot building at 309 Oak St. The $24 million construction project would add 47,000 square feet to the library.

On Wednesday, the board met with their expansion partners – Rudy Espiritu, the assistant city manager; architects from Nagle Hartray, the Chicago firm designing the library expansion; and artists from MorningStar Media Group, a multimedia production firm based in Sycamore.

The group watched videos made by MorningStar Media to advertise the library’s spatial needs. One video showed a family struggling to access the library with their wheelchair-bound daughter.

“Those types of stories lay the cornerstones of our campaign, and that is the need,” said Ryan Weckerly, MorningStar Media’s president and CEO. “Why do we need this.”

Weckerly also presented to the board a beta version of the expansion’s fundraising website MorningStar Media has built.

Don McKay of Nagle Hartray presented the officials with different animated slides of the expansion’s lobby. McKay pointed out several times how spacious the new lobby would be.

One of the slides McKay presented will become a watercolor rendition that will be used to show people how the expansion will fit alongside the existing structure and for fundraising purposes, he said.

The library has asked the DeKalb City Council whether it would consider borrowing $7.5 million for the project. If it borrows, the library will pay back the bonds by adding 8 cents per $100 of assessed value to residents’ property tax bills for 20 years. Officials have equated this increase to an additional $40 a year on someone who owns a home with an assessed value of $150,000.

Aside from the bond sale, library leaders also want to use $1 million in library reserves, raise $6 million from private donors and use $1 million in tax increment financing funds. The library building is in a TIF district.

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