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Library expansion plans continue
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Library expansion plans continue

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Plans to expand Keene Memorial Library are proceeding as are those to hire a new library director.

Members of the library’s advisory board heard updates when they met Monday night. They also learned about future activities including a Pop Up Book Nook.

Linda McClain, library board vice president, is part of the expansion project steering committee.

McClain said the committee is working very hard on the expansion endeavor, adding that it soon will be three years since local voters approved a $2 million bond issue for the project.

“I think it’s time for us to finalize these plans,” McClain said.

McClain thanked the Fremont Area Community Foundation for the $100,000 grant, which she described as a kick start.

She said the “Grow With Us” fundraising campaign is set to begin.

“We’ll shortly be rolling out a video production, talking about the multiple needs of our facility to bring it into the next 50 years,” she said.

McClain said the library has served the community very well for almost 50 years, but like anything of that tenure needs some work.

Plans are to remodel the current library. The expansion will be designed to flow into the current building. Plans include having separate children’s and teens areas, a computer lab, technology ready community room, genealogy room, more programming space, private study areas and better parking.

Fremont City Council member Sally Ganem, who attended the library board meeting, asked how work on obtaining grants is going with Paul J. Strawhecker, LLC, Inc., a professional fundraiser.

“We have just submitted our Peter Kiewit Foundation request summary,” said Laura England-Biggs, interim library director.

England-Biggs said work on other grants is in various stages and is almost complete.

In other business, Fremont Assistant City Administrator Shane Wimer said the city has 12 applicants for the library director position and there are good candidates.

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Those applicants will be narrowed to five. McClain and LeAnn Rathke, library board member, will be part of the selection committee along with city staff.

Wimer said the committee should begin conducting interviews next week. Once the person is selected that candidate choice will go to the mayor and then the city council for final approval.

“We’ll probably have a library director by the second (council) meeting in April,” Wimer said.

In regard to other staffing, England-Biggs said there are four library aide openings. One individual has accepted a position.

She said staff is cohesive and in very good spirits considering extra time spent on the desk. She said they’re aware of the service they provide to the community.

England-Biggs provided a report from the Friends of Keene Memorial Library group.

She said the group is planning a Pop Up Book Nook from 5-8 p.m. April 23, 1-5 p.m. April 24 and 1-4 p.m. April 25 in the East building on the library grounds that weekend. Freewill donations will be accepted.

Weather permitting, books will be available outside for browsers. Having the event on the east side of the library should make it more convenient for attendees to park nearby and walk to than it was during a previous book nook that took place on the west side of the library.

“We hope to have more of these whenever plans can be made to do so,” England-Biggs said of the events.

The book nook is in lieu of the official, large, annual book sale, which was canceled in 2020 and this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

England-Biggs also said the Friends group is looking at plans to have a summer event to help promote the library expansion project.

Tentative plans are to host more of an outdoor, carnival, family friendly event aimed at donors with small monetary contributions.

She also said the Friends board has an opening or two for anyone who’d like to join.

“All you need is an interest in libraries and the interest in supporting the programming and services of the Keene Memorial Library,” England-Biggs said.

The next library advisory board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. April 19 in the city council chambers in the Fremont Municipal Building, 400 E. Military Ave. Meetings are open to the public.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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