Next chapter for library: Raise cash

Mesa County Library Director Eve Tallman shows artwork of the new Central Library expansion and improvement project Tuesday morning in the lobby of the Alpine Bank Building. The project is expected to cost $6.7 million.



The vision of a bright, modern and refreshed new central library was front and center Tuesday, as library officials and supporters of the current rehabilitation project happening at Fifth Street and Grand Avenue gathered to kickoff a public fundraising campaign.

The Mesa County Public Library Foundation, which has set a goal of raising $1.25 million toward the total project cost of $6.7 million, also debuted some architect’s drawings that show some of the improvements planned at the central branch.

The project will expand the current building some 9,000 square feet, much of that in the form of a bright new reading room, an airy outdoor patio, and a multi-use event room that will seat nearly 200 people. The design is highlighted with a prominent curved wall that faces south and high ceilings and windows that will give the library a much-needed modern feel.

“It’s this idea of having more fuel in the tank to meet the future,” said Foundation board member Kevin Bray, in describing the library’s modern step forward. “It’s our privilege as a foundation to invite supporters to be a part of this project.”

Bray said the foundation is already about a third of the way to its fundraising goal, having done some planning in 2011 and landed some initial grant money.

Also part of the total so far is a $100,000 commitment from the Friends of the Mesa County Public Libraries, who were recognized Tuesday for their continued efforts. The Friends have committed to raise $20,000 every year for the next five years, through twice-annual book sales and sales of books at the library itself.

The commitment of the Friends should also help sell the idea of community buy-in, key to landing the large statewide grants the foundation is pursuing.

“Ours is a real show of faith in the community, that we’re behind this project,” said Maggie Lopez, president of the Friends.

Lois Becker, the development director with the foundation, said the group has already applied for a number of large grants to help fund the project. Decisions on many of those grant applications are expected as soon as January.

Grants aside, Becker said the public’s contribution would be critical to the foundation meeting its goal. On two separate occasions within the last 10 years, the library posed taxing initiatives to fund expansion, only to be rejected by voters both times. She’s hoping the folks who were for those initiatives would still be inclined to support the library’s expansion plans.

“We had gone to the public and asked them to take on a 20-year commitment of debt,” Becker said. “We’re hoping that the public steps up and says, ‘This is the $50 I would have been contributing anyway.’”

More than 30,000 people in the Grand Junction area will get a fundraising flier in the mail soon, and contributions can be made online at http://www.mesacountylibraries.org.

Contributions by check can be mailed to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation, P.O. Box 3668, Grand Junction, CO 81502.


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