Last QC area Carnegie Library to try again

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The last QC area Carnegie Library in operation is proposing a Feb. 2, 2010 bond referendum to garner funds for adding on and remodeling its historic building in Aledo. The 95-year-old Mercer Carnegie Public Library has not been expanded or remodeled structurally since it was built with $10,000 donated to the community by the Carnegie Foundation in 1915.

The historic Mercer Carnegie Library is the sole remaining library in the greater Quad City area constructed with funds provided by the renowned industrialist Andrew Carnegie. A referendum for an expansion project in 2009 for over $3 million was defeated by about 300 votes.

The current library facility is out of compliance with ADA accessibility mandates. This includes not only entrance and exit issues, but staircases, hallways, restrooms, shelving and the service desk. The historic building lacks adequate space, resulting in limiting and overcrowding of the collection, insufficient room for library programs or community meetings, and inadequate seating for users. The current facility also has inadequate heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical wiring, shelving, lighting and security features.

The historic building was built to serve an area one half the size the Library District has grown to since 1915. The existing Library collection and services are confined to about 1,900 square feet. The currently proposed addition would increase the finished operating area of the library by approximately 6,000 square feet. The Library District now serves about 5,000 residents.

In addition to making the entire Library handicap accessible and mechanically up-to-date, the proposed addition and remodeling would provide space for more public access computers, a much larger children's department with a separate area for toddlers, a new teen area, more reader seating, and a larger and more diverse collection of materials.

After a reevaluation of the project in mid 2009, the Mercer Carnegie Library Board of Trustees eliminated many features contained in the original project in order to reduce costs. All amenities planned for the lower level of the building will be added at a later date, hopefully through fund-raising, donations or grants. The library is currently proposing bonds of a maximum of $2,800,000 to be repaid over a 20-year period. District property owners would be taxed an additional 33.83 cents per $100 assessed value annually. The additional annual cost for a $100,000 home would be $94.16. Landowners in Millersburg and Mercer Townships would see annual tax increases respectively at $58.86 and $63.26 per 100 acres. 

For more information about the library stop by at 200 North College Ave. in Aledo, call (309) 582-2032, email: mercer.carnegie@mchsi.com or visit http://mercercarnegielibrary.home.mchsi.com.