Linda McClain, library board vice president, is part of the expansion project steering committee.
McClain said the committee is working very hard on the expansion endeavor, adding that it soon will be three years since local voters approved a $2 million bond issue for the project.
“I think it’s time for us to finalize these plans,” McClain said.
McClain thanked the Fremont Area Community Foundation for the $100,000 grant, which she described as a kick start.
She said the “Grow With Us” fundraising campaign is set to begin.
“We’ll shortly be rolling out a video production, talking about the multiple needs of our facility to bring it into the next 50 years,” she said.
Laura England-Biggs understands the critical need for a library in a community.
England-Biggs is interim director at Keene Memorial Library in Fremont. In this role, she continually sees students, job seekers and workers who depend on the local facility.
“We are reaching out to serve not only those who want to use the library, but those who need to use the library — those folks who don’t have internet or a computer at home that works and need access for job searching, for homework — for even working from home. Some folks come in with laptops and do their work from home at their second home, which is the library,” she said.
Below are the floorplans for the first and second floors of the Keene Memorial Library Expansion Project. More work is needed to get the details right but you can see where some of the specific areas (Children’s area, Teen area, Community Meeting Room) are being developed.
Keene Memorial Library was opened in 1971. Much has changed since then and time has moved quickly. The library has grown and so has Fremont. The limit for collections has been reached, our parking lot seems to shrink, and technology has passed us by.
These are some of the challenges that Keene Memorial Library faces on a daily basis and all challenges that the expansion hopes to fix.
Library leaders are excited to share that Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture (SPT) out of Wichita Kansas has been hired to work on architectural plans for the library’s expansion and renovation. The Fremont City Council met on January 26 and approved hiring SPT; four other companies had submitted proposals.
Interim Library Director Laura England-Biggs is excited to work with SPT. “Moving forward in the next stage of our design process is an exciting one. SPT has some great ideas for us! And they have listened to our input from the initial meetings with remarkable results so far.” SPT Architecture will provide the architectural design and schematics of the expansion project. They will first work on a new exterior rendering before helping to finalize the interior of the project design. To do this work, they are taking into account needs from past space needs assessments and community surveys/input sessions.
They have previously worked on projects like the Valley Center Community Center & Library (Valley Center KS), Wichita Public Library and Wichita Public Schools.
Beginning the week of November 3, two houses located at 1025 N Park Ave and 20 W 10 St were razed as seen in the above picture. The two former residences were razed by S2 Rolloffs, LLC. as part of Keene Memorial Library’s expansion and renovation project. Removing the houses will create a space for the library’s footprint to grow and include expanded parking.
Keene Memorial Library has been working on renovating their current facility since space assessments were done as far back as 2004. In 2018, the City of Fremont passed a $2 million dollar bond to help renovate the library as well as add new modern space and technology. “We are maxed out on capacity,” Interim Director Laura England-Biggs said.
- Gateway for All
Libraries provide information and educational opportunities in the community. They provide a variety of resources and opportunities that promote creativity, discourse, and community involvement. At Keene Memorial Library, patrons are provided multiple resources that include unbiased information and educational opportunities.
Many tourists visit libraries to study local history and genealogy. Libraries are excellent resources for the town’s history and promote the town’s culture and significance to the area. Keene Memorial Library has extensive genealogy material available for those interested in Dodge County and the local families. It also serves as the City of Fremont’s visitor’s center.
- Community Building
Libraries revitalize and create vibrant neighborhoods. They preserve an area’s history and create “a community of sharing” and the special lending collections grow out of what a community needs. Keene Memorial Library builds community through programs and special events with visiting writers/speakers, politicians, and other cultural programs. The Library has also been an essential public resource in times of community hardship like the 2019 floods and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
- Community Workforce Development
Libraries provide community access to career development with tools and programs that support workforce literacy and skill development. Keene Memorial Library offers bilingual support and guidance to promote our workforce. With more staff, the Library plans to expand offerings through partnerships with small businesses and the Department of Labor.
- New Citizen Resources
Libraries are a resource for assimilating citizens and offering essential services like literacy and language development classes and comprehensive resources for attaining citizenship. Keene Memorial Library has a bilingual staff member and offers individual and group community programs. The Library plans to expand this resource to include language learning programs with partners such as Metro Community College.
- Business Owner Support
Libraries support new business owners with meeting spaces, training workshops, networking, job fairs, and resources that help businesses grow. Keene Memorial Library offers electronic and print resources to help start or grow a business. Space is available for meetings and workshops with more meeting spaces in high demand.
- New Enterprises
Nationally, libraries supply community resources including incubator/makerspace, startup assistance, business databases, and research capabilities. Keene Memorial Library plans to add space and additional business services such as makerspace technology to benefit those in the community interested in starting a business.