The Keene Memorial Library expansion project has reached the halfway point of a $9.4 million fund-raising goal.
In 2018, Fremont voters approved a $2 million bond issue for the project.
Those funds, along with donations, grants and pledges, have put the project at 50% of its goal.
Members of the library’s board learned about the fundraising when they met Monday night in the Fremont Municipal Building.
“I think we’re making really good progress,” said Linda McClain, a member of the expansion project steering committee. “It’s a process and I think we’re in a good place right now.”
McClain said the goal date for raising the remainder of the funds is Oct. 31. There will be a remaining grant that will need to be secured after that date.
She encourages the public to make donations and become involved in the project.
The steering committee consists of members of Friends of Keene Memorial Library, the library board and Laura England-Biggs, library director.
During the meeting, Amanda Moenning asked about the Corporate Reading Challenge, which started June 1.
England-Biggs said in May that local businesses were asked to sponsor readers.
She said the hope was that people would read 150,000 minutes in June.
During the meeting, England-Biggs said three sponsors each are willing to donate $1,000. The sponsors, who’ve been thanked via social media, are: Great Plains Communications, Blair; Gene Steffy Auto Group; and Kubat HealthCare, both of Fremont.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, challenge participants had read for 169,708 minutes with a few days still left in the month.
“So we may make 200,000,” England-Biggs said.
In presenting the Friends of the Keene Memorial Library report from President Denise Kay, England-Biggs said the contract with Paul J. Strawhecker, LLC, Inc., a professional fundraiser, concludes at the end of June.
Any further work they do will be done on an hourly basis.
“They’ve been very helpful in making an orderly transition for us so we’re able to assume the grant-writing duties and we have all of the documents we can edit as needed for future flyers and posters,” England-Biggs said.
The Friends group also thanks Vincent O’Conner for delivering a donation of 1,000 books from a family estate for the Friends book sale in 2022.
The Friends group is planning a free event called, Lemonade on the Lawn, starting at 2 p.m., July 10. The event, open to the public, will take place on the library’s south lawn. Magician Jeff Quinn will perform.
England-Biggs said the lemonade will come in Capri Sun drink pouches and cookies will be wrapped.
“We’re still taking COVID precautions,” she said.
England-Biggs also expressed appreciation for Quinn, who’s donating his services for the lemonade fundraiser.
“He performs for us every year and he appreciates the repeat business,” England-Biggs said. “He is a gem.”
More than 130 people attended when Quinn performed at on the library lawn on June 7 and 120 attended when The String Beans, a kid-friendly band, performed June 14.
A Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce Coffee is planned at 9 a.m. July 20 at the library.
Another Pop-Up Book Nook fundraiser is planned from 5-8 p.m., Aug. 13; 1-5 p.m., Aug. 14; and 1-4 p.m., Aug. 15 at the library.
England-Biggs said the group also will host “Desserts in the Stacks,” a membership drive event, from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 12. Participants can eat dessert in the library. Entertainment for the event is to be determined.
In other business, the board approved policy manual updates.
The updates include policies for use of a pass that allows the borrower to gain no-cost admission into Omaha’s Durham Museum. There is a $150 fee to replace the membership cost if the pass is lost.
“We put it on a keychain to make it harder to lose,” England-Biggs said of the pass.
Another update provides the policy for people ages 19 and above who have library cards and want to borrow the digital projector.
Updates include removal of the word “fines” from the policy. Following an international trend, fines for the late return of materials have been eliminated at the library.
Fees still will be charged for lost or damaged materials.
England-Biggs also said she contacted staff at the Kearney Public Library for information on how they get high circulation and patron counts. She will look into whether the Kearney library has a bookmobile, which would contribute to more hours and circulation. She’s continuing to gather more information.
She’s attended numerous meetings. She helped at the Summer Lunch Program and read to students at Howard Elementary School.
England-Biggs has been involved in library expansion presentations with businesses and organizations.
The library at 1030 N. Broad St., will be remodeled and new library areas will be designed to flow into the older building.
Plans are to have meeting rooms equipped with technology and separate adult, teen and kid areas, space for entertainment and educational events.
Other plans include updating existing elevators, shelving, counters, computers, entryways, workspaces, bathrooms and infrastructure to make the building easily accessible and to add more than 20 parking spaces outdoors.
The next library board meeting will start at 6:30 p.m., July 19 in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Fremont Municipal Building. Meetings are open to the public.