SIDNEY — Local community leaders and residents gathered, Wednesday, Aug. 10, to celebrate their newest gem.
The Amos Memorial Public Library officially opened its $4.8 million addition with speeches, book signings and frozen custard.
Dignitaries welcomed a crowd of more than 100 people and thanked project funders and fundraisers, the architects and builders and library staff.
“Good things don’t just happen,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, 4th District. “It takes, first, the vision, then a lot of hard work. That’s what we’re celebrating. A community this good, this strong, needs a library this strong.”
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst recounted the history of libraries in Shelby County.
“Those of us old enough to remember climbing the imposing stairs to the second floor of the Monumental Building also remember the high ceilings, the tall ladder necessary to reach the books on the very top shelves, the scary taxidermy mounts of birds and animals, the musty smell,” he said to the laughter and knowing nods of many in attendance. There are no such impediments in the airy, light, wide-open spaces of today’s facility.
“As you tour the building, you will see all the gathering spaces in this building — spaces that invite patrons to connect — whether it be a couple on the gathering stairs, in a small group in one of the study rooms or much larger groups the community room — there are now comfortable spaces available in the library for patrons of every age, groups of any size,” Barhorst added.
Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst exhorted the community to “enjoy what you have, because this is tremendous.”
Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, served as master of ceremonies. After also introducing campaign chairpersons Cindy Helman and Amy Zorn, library board president Julia Frantz and Shelby County Libraries Executive Director Suzanne Cline, each of whom acknowledged the donors and designers who had made the new library possible, Raible led the crowd in a group cheer: “We love our library!” During the cheer, Frantz and Cline ceremoniously cut a bright red ribbon stretched across the wide interior stairway, declaring the library officially open.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Cline. “It started about 12 years ago, when I walked in the door.” The actual groundbreaking was in April 2016. “It was a community project and we’re thrilled with the results. It’s a dynamic place. Thank you all,” she said.
Later, she told the Sidney Daily News that the added space will not so much permit an increase in the library’s collection of books and other materials as it will provide for more solid programming.
“It enhances what the community wanted from us that we couldn’t provide before,” she said.
The project was financed by $2.5 million from library reserves earmarked for construction, with the remaining $2.3 million raised from private gifts and in-kind contributions.
It added 11,400 square feet and renovated the building’s original 19,400 square feet. Except for a few days, the library remained open during the entire 18 months of construction. There are some lower-level spaces that still need to be finished. Flooring must be installed in a meeting room and the STEM lab is incomplete. But what is done is worth every ounce of the pride the community showed in it during the event.
Wednesday’s celebration included book signings by area authors and illustrators: William Weldy, Terry Pellman, Tim Smith, Richard Giedroyce, Stephen Hines, Terry W. Ervin II, Marlene Sommer, Jane Dippold, Michelle Houts, Scott Trostel, JL Wenning and John Crusey.
Following the speeches, guests were invited to take self-guided tours of the building and to enjoy refreshments, including Culver’s frozen custard. Dreamsicle seemed to be the favorite flavor.
“People must be going back to their youth,” the server said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.