Gutekunst Public Library to double in size

Renovations at Gutekunst Public Library in State Center are about 70 percent completed. Ground was broken at the site back on April 17, 2017, when work began on the $1.3 million building project, which will double the size of the existing 4,300 square foot library. The work is set to be completed by May.

STATE CENTER — It’s been a long, yet rewarding journey, for the staff at the Gutekunst Public Library, as the building’s renovation project nears 70 percent completion.

Ground was broken at the site back on April 17, 2017, when work began on the $1.3 million dollar building project, which will double the size of the existing 4,300 square foot library.

“Building-wise, we are at 70 percent — all of the exterior building is all buttoned up, so it’s tight. However, the grading and paving will have to wait until the spring when it warms up,” said Mara Edler, who serves as the library’s director. “None of the finishing work has been done, like plumbing and putting in fixtures, but the windows are in, and they’re beautiful.”

The library’s addition is done in a mother/child design, wherein the new section is being constructed slightly behind the original building, but connected to it. The goal is to start moving library materials into the new space, beginning March 1.

“At that point, we will only be open on the main floor, with the second floor used for storage. We hope by early-mid May for the project to be done,” Edler said.

Volunteers will be needed to help transfer those materials.

“We have 14,000 items that will need to be moved,” she said. “It will be a ‘book brigade’ so we can keep all the books in order.”

After the transfer of materials, renovations will begin on the original building, which will get new paint, carpeting and lighting to match the look of the new building.

“Our DVDs and juvenile fiction section will be in storage upstairs. You can still check them out, but only a librarian will be able to retrieve them,” Edler added.

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.

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.

Once the library is fully functional in both buildings, there will be a grand opening sometime in the spring.

Edler said she is happy with the progress of the building project.

“I’ve very pleased with how the brick on the new building is matching the brick [of the current library],” she said. “The original brick is from 1924, so that is amazing.”

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 borrowed the remaining $400,000 needed. Funds have been successfully raised for the purchase of a new outdoor drinking fountain.

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.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com