GALESBURG – Local residents, city officials and state representatives gathered among others in the wind and rain Thursday afternoon to commemorate the groundbreaking of a new public library for the city of Galesburg.
The building is scheduled to be substantially completed December 2023 and speakers at the event recognized the ceremony as the culmination of years of collective work after the library was awarded a $ 15.3 million Public Library Construction Act Grant from the Illinois State Library in 2021.
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“On behalf of Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White, I bring congratulatory greetings to the library and the city of Galesburg on being a recipient of a grant of such an important infrastructure project,” Greg McCormick, the director of the Illinois State Library, said to the crowd.
A number of people in the event’s audience named the public library’s added meeting rooms and services as things they are most excited to see arriving in the new building.
“Yes absolutely I am so excited,” Jeannette Chernin, a Galesburg resident since 1976 said. “I’m really looking forward to the community space that we’ve needed forever.”
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“More room for the community to gather is never a bad thing, right? God knows there’s not enough in this town, “said Sarah Wallenfelsz, a Galesburg native and Knox student.
Brian Kipchemis, who is studying to obtain his associates degree at Carl Sandburg College, said the new library will be helpful as a nearby place to study once he starts pursuing his masters.
“Most of us, we live within the other town so at times getting to study in school can be quite far,” Kipchemis said. “A library being established here is going to be a near place for those people, those students who live in town to have a variety to study here, to read some books, to do assignments here and there, so we’re looking forward to such a moment. “
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Gary Mustain said he is glad that the building will be larger but that he is also looking forward to services the library will provide, such as hands-on activities for children.
“I’ve got a couple of little boys that I take every other Saturday to the library, we’re very excited about it, and I love the fact that they have so many things open to the community,” Mustain said. very civic minded. ”
Martin Reichel, chair of the library’s construction committee, noted that the present public library was originally built in 1961 as a temporary replacement to the Carnegie Library that burned down in 1958.
Reichel said the dream to build a more suitable library for the city began in 2005 with a two-year “need study.” The establishment of the public library foundation followed in 2007, then three years of visits to other libraries in the area and potential sites with the new site approved in 2010.
The Galesburg Public Library was first approved for the Illinois Public Construction Act Grant in 2013, Reichel said, but all of the funding had already been allocated to other libraries. By meeting all of the grant’s requirements over the next seven years, the library was able to obtain the award once the grant was funded again in 2020.
Other speakers at the event included former Illinois State Rep. Don Moffitt, Mayor Peter Schwartzman, Library Director Noelle Thompson, Executive Director of the Galesburg Public Library Foundation Heather Sipes, president of the library’s board of trustees Laurie Muelder, president of the foundation board Stuart Allison and the coordinator of diversity and inclusion at Card Sandburg College Anthony Law.
“The great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges said, ‘I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library,'” Allison told the audience. “With your help we will soon see that paradise realized here in Galesburg.”