Library board resurrects 'local history room' plans; presents new, reduced budget

DECATUR—Nearly 7 years after the Library Foundation began collecting funds for the local history room, the library board of trustees is finally ready to move forward with the much anticipated project.
In 2006; the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Decatur Public Library began collecting funds for what was then called the ‘Cultural Center’, an ode to local, Decatur, history.  In all, over $630,000 was raised through the two aforementioned organizations, as well as various donations by Decatur residents for the project.  7 years, several boards, and several location changes later, the Decatur Library Board of Trustees is ready to seriously move forward with the project, “A lot of things have changed since 2006,” Board President Teena Zindel-McWilliams says.  “It was originally planned for the annex next door, but that fell through, then our board kept changing and an agreement couldn’t be reached on how to do it, but now that it’s all behind us, it’s time to move forward.”
Earlier this year the Library hired Cordegan Clark & Associates, an architectural design team out of Chicago to design a Local History Room that would be put either on the library’s second floor, or first floor, but their designs were never acted on because they came in over their $630,000 budget.  “Right after the firm came and configured the room, we were hit with our budget issue, and it didn’t seem right to tell the public that we had to cut all this money from our budget, but then turn around and spend $700,000 on a history room,” Zindel-McWilliams says.
At their meeting on Thursday night, Zindel-McWilliams was instructed by the board to appoint a sub-committee that will serve the finance committee and work on constructing the history room on their own.  “We have plenty of renderings from years past, the subcommittee will work within themselves to create a room that both suits our needs but also fits our budget,” Zindel-McWilliams said.  She said the subcommittee will reveal their plans to the finance and revenue committee sometime in November, which will then present their plans to the full board sometime thereafter.
“People have put donateions forward for this project in good faith that we would eventually get this history room up and running and up until now we haven’t achieved anything,” Zindel-McWilliams added.  “The bottom line is that it’s been seven years and it’s time to do something, and that’s what we are going to do.”
In other news, the board approved their FY 2014 budget, which has been balanced for the first time in several years.  Over the course of 4 months the board did everything they could to reduce the budget the necessary amount, roughly $500,000.  This was accomplished by laying off 10 employees, as well as offering reduced hours during the week and having the library closed on Sundays.  The library reduced their budget from $3.9 million in 2013 to $3.4 million in 2014.

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Locations : Chicago
People : Teena Zindel-McWilliams