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DeKalb library leaders discuss expansion design details

DeKALB – Harry Dumpty sits on a wall outside the DeKalb Public Library, and that’s the way library leaders want him to stay.

DeKalb Public Library leaders are trying to blend the old with the new as they refine the details for the $24 million library expansion.

“The little things end up being the things that give the library the character that make it unique to your community,” Don McKay, the principal planner with Nagle Hartray Architects told the library’s Board of Trustees during a special meeting Wednesday.

The expansion will add 46,000 square feet to the 80-year-old building at 309 Oak St. in DeKalb and is expected to start this early this summer.

As McKay detailed the landscaping and library lobby, he was met with several questions about the plans, including on from Youth Services Assistant Manager Diane Tolhurst: “[Harry] Dumpty, where does he fit into the landscaping?”

Harry Dumpty was created in 1997 by sculptor Brent George. The statue sits outside of the children’s department entrance facing Third Street. The wall the statue sits on will be destroyed with the expansion, but the statue will be saved. Harry Dumpty will be moved to a pillar on a stone wall in the new courtyard on the south side of the building.

“I wanted to make sure he was going to be there, and I’m happy to hear he’ll be honored,” Tolhurst said. “People would miss him if he was gone.”

McKay also presented a design for four columns in the main lobby of the expansion, a nod to the four columns already in the library, but with a bold design feature. McKay proposed wooden ribbons made out of plywood with a veneer wrapping around the columns that would be backlit.

Trustees and library staff questioned the design McKay presented, proposing different kinds of effects on the columns that would leave a dramatic impression on people entering the lobby. They were, however, intrigued by the idea.

“[The columns] are quite magnificent, and I want to retain that sense of magnificence,” board Chairman Clark Neher said.

Trustees also talked about etching quotes into the terrazzo floor proposed for the lobby. They did not make any decisions during their meeting regarding the lobby or landscaping plans. The discussions will continue up until and after the expansion is complete.

“There are dozens of little things we won’t even know until the crowd comes in,” Neher said.

What’s next

The Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of every month to discuss different aspects of the library expansion such as design and fundraising.

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