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Our view: Growing libraries are proof they still matter

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:46 p.m. CST

Our communities’ libraries are expanding and remodeling, proof they still have a role to play in our communities in the Internet Age.

In Genoa, work has begun on a $2.3 million project that will almost double the size of its building, to 6,000 square feet. The funding will come from an endowment from the estate of Robert Weiss, library officials have said.

In DeKalb, the historic Haish Memorial Library will be more than three times as large when a now underway $24 million expansion project is completed. When it is finished in 2016, the old library will be renovated to meet modern accessibility standards and the library will be 66,000 square feet. The project is being funded in part by a $11.6 million state grant.

Local taxpayers also are chipping in through a property tax increase that will add about $45 a year in property taxes for the owner of a $150,000 home, and the library is counting on its ability to raise about $3 million from private donors.

Meanwhile, Sycamore’s library was renovated and remodeled in recent years, with the help of state grant funds.

None of these projects could have happened without significant grants or donations, and none of them were sent to voters for approval. However, we like to think that voters would have seen the benefits, and consider our communities better off that they came to pass.

Our local libraries are used by hundreds of people every day – DeKalb alone has about 1,000 daily visitors. Local libraries are clearinghouses for information, including in the form of books. But they offer much more.

There are e-books, DVDs and other materials. Libraries also offer community meeting space, and programs to spark the interest and imagination of patrons of all ages. They provide safe and quiet places for people to study. They help to preserve our local history and educate our future leaders.

Our libraries are relevant today, but like many institutions, they must continue to change with the times to be relevant to the public.

Although there are many other ways to obtain information today, a good local library can make a big difference in a community. We are pleased to see our libraries growing and thriving.

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