PETERSBURG - The Monroe County Public Library System's Summerfield-Petersburg branch will begin expansion in the coming months to quench the community's ever-expanding thirst for knowledge.
In Summerfield and Petersburg, voters last month easily passed a millage for this $625,000 project.
An average of 0.39 mills will be levied over the next 15 years. Owners of a $100,000 home will pay $48, or about 0.5 mills, for the first year, and then this amount will slightly decrease each subsequent year.
At first, the library board tried to raise the necessary expansion funds through local fund-raising efforts and from foundations, but it was not able to raise enough funds, so they asked voters for the millage.
But the library continues to hold regular fundraisers, like the one last Sunday, to pay for its programs.
"You don't want to always ask voters to pay for things," said librarian Doris Sheldon. "It's better to try and raise as much of the money you can on your own."
Noel Dentner, chairman of the library board, said that over the past five years, the library has had more patrons and has had to increase the programs it offers.
The expansion project will involve tearing down a 600-square-foot building adjacent to the library that was purchased two years ago. This empty lot will then be used to expand the library by about 50 percent, Mr. Dentner said.
"We're just out of room. After school, we are wall to wall people. We have no quiet study area now and the lack of shelf space just isn't fair to our patrons," said Ms. Sheldon. "We want to offer them more, and this millage and expansion allows us to do just that."
The current library is about 1,500 square feet and the new, expanded library will be about 2,100 square feet, allowing it to double its stacking capacity. Currently, it holds about 20,000 materials - books, magazines, newspapers, and films - but post-expansion it will be able to stack 40,000 such materials.
The expansion will also create an archival history room, additional computer centers, a reading and quiet area, study and meeting rooms, and it will extend the size of the children's reading area.
Architects are finishing the designs, bonds will soon be sold, and then the board will choose a contractor.
"Construction will probably start in later winter or spring," said project manager Jason Nolff of David Arthur Consultants Inc. in Dundee.
The library has already paid David Arthur Consultants about $40,000 for the study and design work.
"We hope to be in [the expanded wing] by next fall, before winter sets in for sure," said Mr. Dentner.
Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch