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DeKalb library fundraising going online

Website will go live after City Council votes on $7.5 million in bonds

DeKALB – People will be able to donate online to the DeKalb Public Library’s expansion campaign through a website that will go live after March 25.

That’s one day after the DeKalb City Council is expected to vote on borrowing $7.5 million to help the library get a state construction grant worth $8.5 million. Library Director Dee Coover said she was optimistic about the campaign’s progress so far.

“Things are coming together very, very well,” Coover said.

Library officials need to have $15.5 million in the bank by June 30 so they can take advantage of the state grant to help pay for a 46,000-square foot expansion to the library at 309 Oak St.

To that end, library officials have petitioned the DeKalb City Council for help, consulted local foundations, and hired a media group to create a fundraising website. Library officials got a full demonstration of the website at their Wednesday night meeting.  

People can donate through the website, where they also can set the frequency of their donations.

Library board member Wendell Johnson donated $10 to see how the webpage’s donation form worked, making him the campaign’s first donor.

But the fundraising campaign won’t officially launch until DeKalb aldermen approve borrowing $7.5 million.

“We have to know if the city will issue the bonds,” Coover said in an interview after the meeting. “We are planning that they will. I firmly believe when people work together to a common goal, it will happen.”

However, Coover said she will not entertain the possibility of the council delaying a vote on borrowing the money, or even rejecting it altogether.

“I think it is going to happen, and that’s the reality we should be working with,” Coover said.

Coover said the library has received $650,000 in verbal commitments from donors. In order to meet the June 30 deadline, the library will borrow $6 million from a private bank. The library will pay that amount back in three years using donations, but it’s still unknown how liable the library or the city would be if it fails to do so.

The library board also began exploring their current budget situation Wednesday. Discussions at their meeting centered on rising health care costs for the library.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the library will have to offer health insurance to their four employees who are working 30 hours a week. Doing so, however, will put the library’s budget into a deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. Coover said she is still exploring different ways the library can absorb these costs.

“We will make a balanced budget,” Coover said.

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