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The expansion project is of course my main priority right now. I have been working very closely with Barb and Thom Christensen, the co-chairs, and making baby steps forward. We are currently engaging in outreach and education about the project and the library as a whole. Our focus has been on showing the community how the library supports the entire community from every perspective and for all ages. We have more of this outreach coming and then plan to move forward on the capital campaign. I am also working on a website specific to the expansion project and should have that up and going this week. It will detail the project, show cost estimates, donation information, and contact information.

For those not following the project, we are planning on extending the current building to the east with a 2-story expansion. We will be demolishing the small annex and the house the Trust currently owns. This also means the current library will be completely remodeled as the new and old become one large library. The architects have designed a structure that melds together for safety and security purposes and ease of use for patrons, based off the community feedback they received. In the end, we will have a space for everyone to call their own – children, teens, and adults. We will also have many study rooms and large community meeting rooms to accommodate more requests for meeting space. These spaces will also have state-of-the-art technology for presentations. The expansion will also include a catering kitchen to offer lunch-n-learns and other events. I have been asked a lot about parking and we will actually be increasing the number of parking spots and improving the front entrance to the library so there will be NO stairs.

I have been asked about whether or not we can save several of the current features of the library such as the La Brezza statue, the chandelier, and the grand staircase. I wanted to make sure everyone was aware that we will be relocating La Brezza to the front entrance and moving the chandelier to the Genealogy room; however, we will be removing the staircase. As many know, once we start a remodeling project, we have to be in compliance with ADA regulations and the current staircase is not ADA compliant.

The architects have planned a new staircase that will be just as grand and meet all ADA regulations. We will also be coming into ADA compliance with the entryways, bathrooms, elevator, and shelving.

Our next stage of the project is the fundraising portion and raising $3-4 million in private donations so we can start applying for major grants. The project in total seems extensive with an addition and remodel, but overall the price tag is relatively small for this project. I have no doubt we will be able to succeed with fundraising and grant writing and make this project a dream come true for the citizens of Fremont.

Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.

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