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It has been a while since I updated folks on the Friends of Keene Memorial Library (FOKML) library expansion project.

If you are not familiar with this project, the FOKML was approved by City Council in 2017 to move forward with a $10-12 million expansion, which would add a two-story expansion to the east (into the parking lot).

This expansion will increase meeting space, improve security and safety and create separate areas in the library for children, teens and adults. We also will be creating a new teen space, which we currently do not have in the library. The extra programming room also will allow us to provide additional classes and educational sessions for the community on topics such as Internet Safety, Social Media, Coding and Programming, and basic Office programs. Local community groups and businesses will be able to use the space for educational, free and public meetings.

The community voted on and passed a $2 million bond for the project. We also have just over $1 million available through the city architect fees, private donors, FOKML and the Friends A Trust organization. The Friends A Trust group owns the deed of the small white house directly next to our east building. They will be deeding this to the city for use in the library expansion. The Friends A Trust group also is trying to purchase another property to expand the project and add additional, badly needed parking space. This purchase is awaiting a completion.

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To raise the remaining funds, the FOKML hired the Paul J. Strawhecker LLC consultant firm from Omaha. The Friends and I have been meeting with the firm to prepare our fundraising campaign and strategy for raising funds. The library staff and Friends group had done a lot of work already toward the campaign. Strawhecker staff was impressed with the steps we have already put into place.

We will be reaching out to folks in the community to expand our committees, and asking for people to help with the fundraising efforts. We already have a strong list and a number of volunteers and the Strawhecker firm is helping us to think outside the box when recruiting additional participants. We also are planning several after-hours events to be held in the library to give tours of the current building and explain the expansion plans.

These events will be very much like the old “Dessert in the Stacks” events the library used to have. It’ll be a chance to get to know the library staff, the building, staff needs and learn more information about the expansion project.

If you wish to assist with the campaign, please contact me at tina.walker@fremontne.gov or call 402-727-2694. Please leave a message if I am not available. I have a list of community members from the survey and previous contacts. Those folks are already being penciled into committees and will be contacted soon. Also, feel free to visit the expansion website at www.kmlexpansion.wordpress.com.

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Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.

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