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DeKalb library fundraising on roll

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:34 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb Public Library leaders are almost halfway to their $3 million private fundraising goal to repay loans taken for the ongoing building expansion.

Thus far, the library has received $1.3 million in cash and signed pledges, said John Castle, chairman of the Castle Bank Community Board and director of Castle Bank’s parent bank holding company, First National of Nebraska.

“That money has come in pretty much unsolicited,” Castle said. “We’re just getting into the asking stage.”

Donations have jumped $475,000 since the July 26 groundbreaking for the project at 309 Oak St. Most have come from individual donors in amounts ranging from a few dollars to more than $150,000, Castle said. Donors can make sizable pledges payable over the next five years.

In total, library leaders need to raise $3 million to repay loans taken out from three local banks to help fund the 46,000-square-foot expansion. Castle, who is leading the fundraising efforts along with National Bank and Trust CEO Michael Cullen, has a much more ambitious goal.

“We would really like to see this campaign end by the end of this year,” Castle said, adding he would like to raise more than $3 million. “We see this campaign now raising money for the basic construction cost, but we would like to be able to pay for things like furnishings and items to open the library.”

Library leaders also want to make room for more people to donate $10,000 or more in exchange for having something in the addition named after them. Donors have a list of more than 50 locations that can bear their name in exchange for a large donation.

Fitting, perhaps, considering the library’s formal name is Haish Memorial Library, after Jacob Haish, the benefactor who willed $150,000 to library officials for the building’s construction.

“Many more people than we expected have grabbed on to that,” DeKalb Public Library Board President Clark Neher said. “So we authorized Marc [Huber, the library development director] to add things that can have naming opportunities.”

So far, donors have pledged a total of $850,000 for the naming rights for places such as the collaboration room, quiet room, and a large sitting area. One of 60 bookshelves carries the smallest required donation, at $10,000. Having the naming rights to the entire new addition will cost $5 million.

The rest of the money for the $24 million expansion will include an $11.6 million state Public Library Construction grant, $6.5 million in funds the city of DeKalb borrowed for the effort, $2 million in tax increment financing funds contributed by the city, and $1 million from the library’s reserve fund.

Construction began late last month. Crews working under Pepper Construction have started utility work at the site. They also relocated the children’s department entrance because Third Street has been permanently closed adjacent to library.

Residents won’t see structural steel erected until December. Crews will finish construction within the next 18 months, and six months of renovation to the existing building will be next. The project should be complete in mid-2016.

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