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By Steven Spencer
The Jerseyville Public Library’s new director, Judy Pruitt, discussed some of the details and needs for the planned expansion during the Jersey County Business Association’s Coffee and Connect event last Thursday.
Plans for the renovation have been in the works for years and the need for space has only grown. In 2010 and 2013, the library began submitting applications for state grant money to begin the project, but didn’t receive the funds until 2020.
“We were approved, but the state’s funds ran out before they got to us,” Former Library Director Anita Driver previously said. “Every year since we’ve applied and in 2020 we were approved and the funds were there, but then covid happened and the value of the funds depreciated. We had money to build what we intended to build in 2020 but now we’re short.”
Between approval in 2020 and execution of the project in 2022, the estimated cost rose from $3.6 million to $5.8 million which resulted in the library needing to reevaluate their plans.
Pruitt said it seems that they’ve found a solution though and will be able to use most of the original floor plans.
“It appears that the original architectural drawings will still work,” Pruitt said. “Now the building and grounds committee will look at the floor plans and amendments to make sure nothing was missed in the adjustments.”
Once the plans are approved by the grounds committee they’ll be able to move on to conversations about contractors, she said.
The last major expansion to the building was in 1987, which more than doubled the size of available space, and in 2008 and 2018 adjacent property was purchased which allowed for more parking and the space for expansion.
However, the amount of resources, programs and events available at the library has more than doubled in size also. With meeting rooms doubling as storage space, computers in constant use, and nearly every inch of the library filled, the expansion is noticeably needed.
Some of the most immediate concerns are the need for meeting space, tutoring rooms, study areas, designated quiet space for public computers, staff office space and storage.
While they’re making the most of the space available, Pruitt said they’re “filled to the gills” at the Jerseyville Public Library. She also mentioned that everything available in the library is there because someone in the community expressed a need for it. Making the library unique to the community it serves.
The list of resources and available items is long. In addition to books and internet access, there are fishing poles, American Girl dolls, sewing machines, laptops, video games, wifi hotspots, iPads, Kindles and more available to patrons.
“It’s the community’s stuff,” Pruitt said. “We just keep it here.”