Dixon Public Library receives $210,000 grant for basement renovations

$600,000 project to create large programming space

Dixon library director Antony Deter points out a section of the library that is poised to be renovated with a $210,000 federal grant. The grant will cover about a third of the planned fixes with another third coming from a state grant.

DIXON – The Dixon Public Library will get a $210,000 federal grant to go toward renovating basement space and converting it into a larger area for programs.

The idea to fix up the 1,700-square-foot area that includes a large room, a small nearby room and a bathroom with termite damage and asbestos, came about five years ago.

Remodeling the area will improve health and safety issues, as well as create a new multipurpose program space where the library will host programs, meetings and other events, library Director Antony Deter said.

The floor and walls have been damaged by termites in areas of the building.

The library’s current programming space is about 556 square feet and capacity typically is limited to 15 to 20 people, causing overflow into the youth area.

Bringing the basement section back into public use would mean the library could offer a wider variety of programs in a larger space, Deter said.

The project area has been used for storage for about 20 years. It has served various uses during library history, including as a custodian apartment, storage, children’s library, local history room and then back to storage.

Work will include asbestos abatement, removing lead paint in the bathroom and repairing termite damage. The deteriorated wooden floor will be replaced with poured concrete, and new duct work will be installed.

LED lighting will be installed throughout, and a drop ceiling will be installed in most of the area. The bathroom will be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there will be a baby-changing table. Water-damaged plaster will be repaired and new carpeting installed. A dividing wall will be removed to provide better access between two spaces.

The lower part of the library is being used as mostly storage. The renovations will open it up for meeting areas and special program space.

The total cost is estimated at $600,000.

The $210,000 grant is secured in U.S. Senate appropriations bills under agriculture, rural development and related agencies, according to a news release from U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

The library also is in the running for a $214,000 state grant. So about two-thirds of the project could be paid for with grant money.

The original 1900’s card catalog sits in one of the downstairs rooms. After the renovation, director Deter plans to put it back on display in it’s original spot in the building.

The basement has its own access from Third Street, so there shouldn’t be much of a disruption to the library during construction, Deter said.

Library officials are waiting to learn if it’s getting the state grant before seeking bids.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Deter said. “The work will be pretty low-impact on the rest of the building, and then we can start rolling out new programs and have a new venue for them.”

Since 2015, the library has spent about $1.75 million upgrading, restoring and refurbishing the historic building.

“The present project represents the last major work that needs to be done to bring the building in line with our patrons’ needs and make it a safe and appropriate facility,” Deter said.

The shelves and books will be relocated to open up the area to meeting space for special programs. The bathroom will also be updated to fit with ADA compliance.
The floor and walls have been damaged by termites in areas of the building.
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Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.