Extensive renovations continue at Gutekunst Public Library

Building is set to double in size

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The Gutekunst Public Library in State Center is three months into its renovation initiative, which will double the size of the library with the addition of a new building, constructed onto the existing structure.

STATE CENTER — At just about three months into the building project, the expansion being built onto the Gutekunst Public Library is taking shape and form.

The 1.3 million dollar building project will double the size of the 4,300 square foot library, by building and attaching a similarly shaped two level structure slightly beside and behind the existing building.

“It was fun for me to watch the foundation go in, from my office window at the library, because it was work you couldn’t see [from the street],” said Mara Edler, who serves as the library’s director. “Then all of a sudden, the concrete was poured, the floor was laid down and work was started on the elevator structure. You can now see where the roof line will be.”

Making accommodations during this phase of construction has been challenging for library staff.

“We evacuated the west end of the building, which was our office space, and had to absorb that stuff into the other side,” Edler said. “We’re cozy, and it’s a little chaotic.”

The library has been able to maintain normal business hours during this process, only closing on a few occasions when work was being done on plumbing and removal of linoleum.

“The public is really understanding,” she noted.

After the add-on is completed, around Thanksgiving, the library will shut down for about two weeks. In that time, all materials in the original building will be transferred over into the new structure. Afterwards, renovations will begin on the original building, which will get new paint, carpeting and lighting to match the look of the new building. This will take around 6-8 weeks.

After the two week of being closed, library services will resume, but in the new portion of the building only. Edler noted services and programs will be limited at that time because of the moving around of materials.

Once the library is fully functional in both buildings, there will be a grand opening — set for early to mid-February.

Expanding the library will make the facility ADA compliant (with the addition of an elevator and a family restroom), provide more meeting space, and allow for more space for books and computers.

Currently, library-sponsored events that exceed 10 or more attendees must be held off site. The addition of a community meeting room on the second floor of the new building will allow more activities to take place on site. It will fit around 50 people.

“We will be able to have yoga at the library, and we’re just excited to be able to have more space for the programs we do now,” Edler said.

The library has been setting aside money for this project since 2003, with the help of private donations and grants. No tax money is being used, and the library is borrowing the remaining $400,000 needed.

Donations are still being accepted to off-set the costs of the project. The “Coins for the Fountain” coin drive is aimed at raising $2,200 for the installation of a new outdoor drinking fountain. In addition, those who donate $100 or more to the building efforts may paint a decorative tile, to be installed in the new building.

“Every dollar donated is one less we have to pay back. We’re really grateful for all the community’s support; we really want to be the living room of the community,” Edler said.

The library is open Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon and 2-7 p.m., Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Sundays.

To learn more about the building project, contact Edler at: 641-483-2741 or maraedler.lib@gmail.com.