DeKalb Public Library prepared to break ground on additions in fall


The DeKalb Public Library on April 2, 2012. The wall shown here is scheduled to be removed to make room for the planned expansion, slated to be complete in 3 to 4 years.

Erin Kolb

County officials plan to break ground on the DeKalb public library expansion this fall, said library board president Clark Neher.

Neher said this grant is the biggest construction grant awarded by the state to a library. He said the state had $50 million to grant for construction, and DeKalb’s $11.6 million makes the city the recipient of the most money from this fund. Neher said construction, which is set to begin this fall, would add 46,000 square feet to the 19,000 square foot library.

“For a town the size of DeKalb, we have a very small library with not nearly enough space for the books and all the programs we offer,” Neher said. “The new building will give us that for the next 30, 40, 50 years.”

Neher said DeKalb’s banks loaned the city $3 million to supplement the grant, and the library will have a fundraising program for about three years in order to pay the banks back.

The grant will benefit the growing city of DeKalb greatly, said Henry Haupt, deputy press secretary for the Secretary of State’s Office.

“It was definitely an appropriate amount to apply to the library,” Haupt said. “We’re talking about a library built in 1930 that was built to service a population of about 8,000 people. The population in DeKalb and the surrounding area has grown significantly since then, and the library itself has aged significantly. In order to provide a library of the caliber that DeKalb deserves, it was an appropriate amount.”

DeKalb has more than 44,000 residents, according to the city website.

Mayor John Rey said the population increase leads to more library patrons and more demand for services.

“The expansion provides patrons and the city of DeKalb the opportunity for more access to materials and services the library offers,” Rey said. “It has been a long time since an expansion has been done, and many years since the library has been built. It’s time to expand.”