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Community support moves new Carthage library forward

A sign that reads "Future Home of the Carthage Public Library District" in an empty lot.
Jane Carlson
/
Tri States Public Radio
The future home of the Carthage Public Library District is on what used to be the campus of Carthage College. The land was donated to the library district by Prairieland Investment Group.

The empty lot at First and Center streets in Carthage is currently covered in snow, but come warmer weather, ground will be broken there for a new public library.

The $2.5 million, 11,000-square foot library is moving forward thanks to the support of the Carthage community, according to library director Amy Gee.

She said around 4,250 residents live within the boundaries of the Carthage Public Library District.

Last year, voters passed a bond issue that provided the library’s local cost share for construction of a new facility.

“The community has been very supportive. The bond issue that passed is what made it possible for us to secure the grant from the state library, which is a little over half of the funds that we need,” Gee said.

Another boon for the project was Prairieland Investment Group donating the land for the new building, which will be on what once was the campus of Carthage College.

The property was officially transferred to the library district as of last month.

In addition, Gee said local donors have generously supported the project through gifts of all sizes.

“We are continuing to work on fundraising because we would like to have new furniture and shelving inside the building,” Gee said.

Carthage’s library has been located in a two-story former bank building on the downtown square since 2006.

A 2018 study determined it would be more cost-effective to construct a new library than renovate the current facility and fix its elevator.

Gee said the new library was designed with the needs of patrons and staff in mind.

The project is expected to go out for bid in late February or early March and construction could begin in late spring.

More information about the project is online.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.