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DeKalb library leaders discuss expansion design

Published: Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – The DeKalb Public Library trustees decided this week to place the children’s area on the third floor of the expanded library.

Trustees voted on the design issue Wednesday after discussing potential security problems with having the children’s area on the main floor and handicapped accessibility issues associated with having the area on the third floor. An elevator would transport those with disabilities to the third floor.

Planning is continuing for the $24 million expansion that will add 46,000 square feet to the 80-year-old building at 309 Oak St. in DeKalb. Library leaders expect to start building the expansion in March so it can open to the public in July 2015, but the project also includes working on a parking lot this fall and renovating the existing library space in late 2015 and early 2016.

On Wednesday, library Director Dee Coover said several years ago, a police officer at the library for security training noticed a registered sex offender in the building, although not in the children’s section. The officer notified the staff right away, and no one was harmed.

There have been no documented incidents of child abuse at the library, Coover said.

“Just one incident, one possible incident of somebody making [someone] feel uncomfortable in the children’s department, it would scare [him or her] away,” said Matt ­McCue, information technology with the library.

The adult department of the library will be on the main floor. About 70 percent of library card-holders are adults.

Wednesday’s meeting also included a presentation by Monsanto employee Larry Mix, who proposed a partnership with the library through the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association.

Mix’s presentation proposed a $300,000 grant, $100,000 of which would go to the library to fund the association’s exhibits and other projects.

In the proposal, the association would occupy 1,370 to 1,520 square feet of space at the expanded library. Board members agreed there would need to be future discussion and negotiations with association lawyers to draft a more concrete plan.

Three members of the Illinois State Library will visit the DeKalb Public Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss the expansion project, including construction of the parking lot.

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