Last August, I was made aware that the library had been deeded property by the Hazel R Keene Foundation and we were expected to use that property for an expansion of the library and, that expansion needed to break ground by July 20, 2020.

I then began researching the history on this donation and confirmed that we were deeded property (the white house next to the east building) and we did in fact have a limitation on time. Former Library Director Ann Stephens and the Library Board, had made multiple attempts to move forward with the expansion project.

March 14th, 2017, I again took the request to City Council requesting approval to move forward with an expansion project and capital campaign, and City Council approved moving forward with an expansion project.

So the next step was to assign a Capital Campaign Manager. I knew we needed someone from the community, who has many contacts with various groups and individuals, that has as much love and support for the library as I do. With that criteria in mind, I chose Jeff Hoffman, the past-President of the Friends Board, to serve in this role.

Jeff and I began meeting back in April. Since then, we and the Library Board have gone through the RFP process for architects. We selected Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture (APM) out of Omaha and will be working with their library design team for the expansion project.

APM is going to start community involvement and feedback sessions after the holidays. There will be some surveys and events held at Keene Memorial Library for community feedback and planning. So watch the paper and our Facebook page after January for more details.

As far as design and what we hope to see in the new expansion, we just have a wish-list. APM will give us a concrete design down the road. The main piece we would like to see is a separate children’s area in the new expansion. Right now sound is an issue in our building so this would allow us to have a nice, inviting, children’s area and a quiet, reading area at the same time. The second most desired area is the community meeting room.

We are hoping for a 150-person, high technology meeting space that could be used by the community and the library. We have talked about having this space designed so it can be broken into smaller meeting spaces as needed.

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A possible outside green space has been discussed as well that would provide a nice shaded area for reading, sitting, or playing.

So we just have requests for various pieces to the puzzle, but in the future, APM will complete that puzzle and provide us with a finished design, following the community outreach sessions and survey results. Having community input about what the expansion project is an essential part of this project.

Please continue to watch the paper, the Friends of Keene Memorial Library’s Facebook and website pages for further updates.

Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.

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