Dekalb Library expansion still waiting for city council approval

Thomas Verschelde

The Dekalb Public Library‘s planned expansion hangs on the decision of the city council.

“We are still in the phase of acquiring land,” said Edith Craig, DeKalb Public Library public relations coordinator. “We are in the very earliest stages of development.”

The would be purchased from Castle Bank Land Trust for around $1.4 million but the deal must first be approved by the Planning Commission and then by the DeKalb City Council, said Clark Neher, DeKalb Public Library Board president.

The Planning Commission could vote on the land deal as early as its next scheduled meeting Oct. 26.

If the land deal goes through, the library plans to use the space to add a new addition that connects to the current building and a 90-car parking lot, Neher said.

Now, the library building is 19,000 square feet, much too small for the population of Dekalb. If the land deal is approved and the expansion moves forward the library would be nearly four times that size, Neher said.

“For every new book we put on the shelves we have to take out a book,” Neher said. “That is not acceptable.” According to a brochure, the land would be paid for by a donation from former patron Susan Soderquist and by Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) surplus funds. TIF is a financing method that uses future gains in taxes to finance current community improvement projects.

“If the city council approves the purchase of the land we will then buy the land and launch a series of public meetings to talk about the architecture of the building,” Neher said. “We will talk about what is best for the city from the public’s perspective.”

The library’s main goal is to have the land deal completed by the end of the year, according to a brochure.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said the library’s expansion will be a good thing for DeKalb.

“I am very glad to see it is going to stay in the downtown area,” Povlsen said. “It will keep the library centrally located and connected to the current library and it will bring foot traffic into the downtown area. I see it as a very positive thing for the city of DeKalb.”