For Every Citizen Program

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Article by KPC Media | KPC News | July 9, 2018 
AUBURN — Eckhart Public Library of Auburn has begun its For Every Citizen fundraising campaign.
The campaign, launched Monday, seeks to raise $12 million for restoration and improvements to the library in the wake of a devastating arson fire.
The library released this set of questions and answers about the campaign:
What happened? On July 2, 2017, while the library was closed overnight, a lit mortar-style firework was dropped into the library’s book drop. The ensuing explosions and fire destroyed the 1996 addition side of the library’s main floor. Smoke, soot, and water caused heavy damage throughout the rest of the building, including into the library’s ductwork, from the farthest reaches of the basement to the attic. The person who started the fire was arrested and sentenced in October 2017 to 12 years in prison on an arson charge.
How long was the library closed? The main library building has been closed since the fire. Other campus buildings reopened July 8, 2017, with as many services resumed as possible. A temporary location opened at Auburn Plaza in October 2017. All circulating books and materials had to be replaced.
What has been done? As of May 2018, the library has been cleaned down to the studs. All exposed areas had to be repainted and sealed because of the toxic nature of the smoke. The library’s HVAC and plumbing will need to be entirely replaced.
Who is leading the campaign? The capital campaign co-chairs are Vicki and Rick James. Also on the committee are library Board of Trustees President Carolyn Foley, Library Director Janelle Graber, Chuck Knox, Kathie Kock, Jamie Long, Robert Tracey, and Angela Mapes Turner. The campaign has the full support of the Board of Trustees and the newly formed Eckhart Library Foundation.
Who is doing the work? Fetters Construction, which worked on the library’s 1996 addition, will serve as general contractor for the restoration. Chuck Knox is leading the fire recovery project. Zachary Benedict of MKM Architecture & Design has drawn the plans for the renovations, which will preserve the elements of the historic side of the library, with a goal to remain on the National Register of Historic Places. The same firm designed the library’s 1996 award-winning addition.
Why is the whole west side entrance being redone? The new design eliminates the terrace so that everyone enters at ground level of the Library Park. The heating element in the existing concrete ramp to the current entrance stopped working about five years ago, and many patrons found the ramp too long and challenging to navigate. Creating a ground-level entrance with an elevator just inside the doors will make the library more accessible to all. Restrooms also will be relocated to the new entryway and will be more accessible as a result of this change. The new exterior entrance will be named the Niles Terrace to continue honoring the family.
What will the new entrance look like? The new entrance will more closely resemble the original east face of the library, to create a more unified look to the building. Preliminary renderings (not reflective of the library park landscaping) have been shared on the library’s website and with local media.
When is the project scheduled to be finished? We are hopeful the main library will reopen in February 2019. A grand reopening celebration is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Why “For Every Citizen”? Donors will build upon library benefactor Charles Eckhart’s unshakable foundation of a library, as he described it, “not for any particular class or group, but for every citizen.”
What is the overall financial goal? $12 million
What are the needs of the campaign?
• $6 million to restore and renovate the main library; purchase books and materials to replace the collection that was entirely destroyed; and mak other capital improvements to the campus.
• $1.5 million for growth and expansion of teen and children’s services
• $4.5 million for an endowment for a maintenance and emergency fund.
How much will the library receive from insurance? The library anticipates an insurance settlement of $2.6 million for construction costs. Changes that are not related to fire damage are not covered by insurance.
Why not just restore the library as it was? We are turning our obstacle into an opportunity! Through strategic planning, we have identified longstanding accessibility challenges, opportunities for growth throughout the four buildings of the library campus, and changes that will make the library more flexible and adaptable in a technological age. Eckhart Public Library will be progressive and proactive in serving our community’s evolving needs.
What other changes are happening on the campus? A facilities assessment in 2017 identified areas of needed improvement and growth. The current parking lot will be expanded. Our Teen Library expansion, guided by our Teen Advisory Committee, will provide much-needed space for books, materials, and programs.
Why does a public library need an endowment? Prior to the fire, the library had engaged with a financial consultant to do an in-depth analysis of future options for increased revenue streams from diverse, reliable sources. Operating funding in recent years has not increased at a rate that can sustain current services and facilities, and funding is unstable from year to year. For example, Indiana’s property tax laws mean that circuit-breaker caps limit public funding based on fluctuating tax rates, which are also capped, making it incredibly difficult to budget and sustain services and facilities. As part of the same analysis, a facilities consultant identified needs to all campus buildings.
Our ability to offer competitive wages, provide library services, and maintain our facilities, especially our historic main library, has been negatively affected by the lack of diverse and reliable operating funding.
The endowment amount, as identified by the financial consultant, will allow the library to address these issues. It will place the library on firm financial footing for years to come, to better uphold its commitment to its mission — and to return the value on the investment the community has made in rebuilding a beloved landmark. 

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