Metro-East News

Metro-east library plans to move into former school building

Lebanon public library plans expansion

The Lebanon Public Library board in Lebanon, IL in St. Clair County, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO bought a former grade school building at 318 S. Fritz St. for $52,000 and plans to move the library there.
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The Lebanon Public Library board in Lebanon, IL in St. Clair County, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO bought a former grade school building at 318 S. Fritz St. for $52,000 and plans to move the library there.

Lebanon Public Library leaders plan to launch an “aggressive fundraising campaign” to move the library into the former St. Joseph’s grade school building they bought for $52,000.

The brick building is at 318 S. Fritz St., which library officials say will be convenient for students attending the town’s nearby high school and elementary school.

Library officials have long wanted to find a new home because the current library at 314 W. St. Louis St. hosts more than 25,000 visitors a year, and space is tight in the building rented from the city of Lebanon. For example, the library’s summer reading program attracts too many participants for the current library, so the program is conducted at area churches.

Also, there is often a waiting list for people wanting to use the library’s computers after school, and when the library wants to add new books, it usually has to remove existing books.

We will start an aggressive fundraising campaign to help us meet some matches for some grants that we are going to apply for to do the reconstruction and remodeling.

Miranda Wright-Kauffmann, president of the Lebanon library board

“The problem with our space is that it is hard to procure any books without getting one out the door,” said Luanne Holper, treasurer of the library board. “We don’t want to weed all of our books just to bring in a new one, but that’s basically what we have to do.”

Library Director Kelly Wilhelm said the state recommends that a town with a population of more than 4,000 like Lebanon should have a library of 6,000 square feet but the current library only has about 1,200 square feet. The Fritz Street building has 10,200 square feet.

“We’re going to expand through a multiphase, probably multiyear construction project of that property,” said Miranda Wright-Kauffmann, president of the board of trustees for the library. “We will start an aggressive fundraising campaign to help us meet some matches for some grants that we are going to apply for to do the reconstruction and remodeling.”

The board does not yet have a timeline or cost estimates for the renovation work for the Fritz Street building, which was built in 1948 and has also housed a church, a day care and a special education school.

The library, which will be celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017, bought the Fritz Street building at auction Dec. 14 with money that had been saved over a period of several years. Officials plan to close the deal in January.

I think that using a building that already existed in the community and refurbishing it is something the community is excited about.

Lacey Mesarchik, vice president of the library board

Wright-Kauffmann said the board has not discussed whether the board would seek a property tax increase to help pay for the renovation.

Wilhelm said the average library property tax bill in Lebanon is $54.

Lacey Mesarchik, vice president of the library board, said she believes there was “some resistance” from townsfolk about constructing a new building for the library.

But she said since the board bought the old school building, the board has received “a lot of support” from the community.

“I think that using a building that already existed in the community and refurbishing it is something the community is excited about,” Mesarchik said.

About the Lebanon Public Library

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