Christmas came early to the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, which broke ground Friday on the first phase of a renovation and addition that has been completely funded by donations from individuals, businesses and local municipalities.
In July 2010, the library embarked on a $1.2 million capital campaign that has raised more than $665,000 needed to complete the three-phase project to upgrade the 50-year-old library.
Despite the economy, library director Laura Bailie said the time is right to forge ahead.
“When there’s a challenging economy, the more people need libraries,” Bailie said. “We provide resources that cost them virtually nothing. We can help them improve their understanding — improve their skills and help their children learn to read.”
The architect for the project is Jim Kasun, of Falling Waters, W.Va. The contractor is Eagle Construction.
Six parking spaces will be sacrificed in order to achieve the addition that includes a children’s programming room, a room that can be subdivided, a handicapped-accessible rest room on the ground level, a small kitchen, a new HVAC system throughout the building, a chair lift to transport people to the main level, new handicapped-accessible bathrooms on the library level, a staff room and a reading room.
Bailie hopes the first phase will be completed in the spring or sooner.
The second and third phases are still not funded.
“In this project, every dollar counts,” said Patti Divelbiss, chairwoman of the library’s capital campaign.
She made a pitch for donations during Friday’s ceremony.
The second phase will cost $119,110; the third phase will cost $364,428.
“We’re hoping as the community sees that we’re serious about improving the library, people who may not have given yet will see we are serious about improving the facility and give generously to the next two phases,” Bailie said.
The second phase will focus on remodeling the existing library with new carpet, new paint and windows to replace the current single-pane ones.
The initial section of the library was built in 1963, and the last renovation was in the early 1990s, Bailie said.
Kay Witmer, president of the library board, said the final phase will focus on the lack of parking.
“We do need parking. It’s a real need,” she said.
Library officials are hoping to purchase land on the side of the building that is owned by someone in Chicago.
“We want to have an outdoor children’s area. There are so many great outdoor children’s opportunities for programming out there. But we just don’t have the outdoor space,” Witmer said.
David Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners, hinted that county libraries might soon be the recipients of more funding.
Earlier this week, the director of the Franklin County Library System asked commissioners to increase the county library tax by three-tenths of a mill for the 2013 budget.
The commissioners have expressed a very positive response, Keller said during the groundbreaking.
“People have really been squeezing to make ends meet (within the library system) “We’re very proud of what is happening in Greencastle,” Keller said.
Bailie expects work on the first phase to begin the week of Dec. 10.
For more information about contributing to Besore’s capital campaign, call 717-597-7920 or log onto www.greencastlelibrary.org.