| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Library Foundation has made its first payment to the city for the organization’s share of the construction costs of a new library branch in East Forest Park.
The foundation has promised to raise $2 million and to date has received $1.1 million in donations. The president of the foundation, Patrick Markey, said it would be the first of four installment payments at a press event on Dec. 13.
“We’re pleased in this season of giving to present the city with $500,000,” Markey said.
He added the library is an example of a project that city government and the state cannot do alone, but must be realized with the support of residents and corporate citizens as well.
Ground has already been broken on the project and Peter Garvey, director of Capital Asset Construction, explained the building’s structural steel should start to be erected before Christmas.
According to library officials, the new facility will offer a Family and Children’s area, dedicated Teen area, a Maker Space lab, a large community meeting room, quiet study rooms, dozens of computer stations, book and media collections, an outdoor patio and reading garden, and parking spaces with easy access to the building. The new library will be connected to the nearby Mary A. Dryden Veterans Memorial School via a special path for children.
Library Director Molly Fogarty said the library began working on a new branch for the neighborhood right after the June 1, 2011 tornado. She described the new branch as a “21st Century library … a true place where families can come.”
Mayor Domenic Sarno introduced former Mayor Charlie Ryan as the “godfather of the library system.” Ryan worked to strengthen the libraries during his last administration and headed the foundation.
Ryan expressed his gratitude for the support so far and noted the new library will be around in 100 to 120 years. “That’s a good feeling,” he said of the permanence of the new branch.
The Promise Realized Campaign is scheduled to run through the end of 2019, when the new branch will be opened. The campaign is designed to accept gifts and pledges that may be made for up to five years. This enables donors to give more and to potentially be eligible to name a room or area in the new library. Many gifts have been doubled thanks to a $250,000 challenge grant that the Library Foundation issued earlier this year. There is still about $100,000 eligible for matching. To learn more, visit www.springfieldlibrary.org/library/about/promise-realized.