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Ellsworth Public Library considers options for future growth

Figuring out how to provide the Ellsworth Public Library more room for books and activities has been going on for years.

Library board and building committee meetings have mulled over the possibility of the library moving into the BMO Harris Bank building at 388 W. Main St. This location was chosen as one of three potential future library sites by the Ellsworth Library Building Committee at its Aug. 12, 2013 meeting.

While no firm decision has been made on a library move to the BMO Harris building, or if it will even move at all from its current 312 W. Main St. location, the Library Building Committee has outlined the benefits of the BMO location.

"Accessibility," said Ellsworth Public Library Director Tiffany Meyer. "It is walkable distance for many of our library customers. It is also a highly visible spot on Main Street."

However, the building has some issues that would need to be addressed if the location is chosen to house the library.

"The overall condition of the building is sound, but some of the recommendations related to code compliance and deferred maintenance included fire suppression, restroom updates, stair replacement, parking lot re-striping and moderate exterior repairs," Meyer said. "Also mentioned, were suggested updates to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems."

According to an Ellsworth Facility Review (, prepared by Indianhead Federated Libray System Director John Thompson on June 30, 2009, the current library has been at the same location since 1932. The report said the library was in the basement portion of the building until it moved into the current upstairs location in 1975. In 1990 some remodeling was done in the rear of the building to allow for more space.

The report went pointed out lack of space for children's programs, lack of collection space, need for more computer space, accessibility issues and other items of concern.

Meyer said the current estimate for relocating the library to the BMO building is about $5 million.

"A combination of fundraising events, donations, grant writing, assistance from the Friends of the Ellsworth Public Library, and hopefully village borrowing," Meyer said about funding the project. "If the village borrowed money, there would be some cost to taxpayers. The [Ellsworth Library Building] committee would be clear in communicating that cost as soon as it was known."

Meyer said the committee is considering putting a non-binding referendum on an upcoming ballot "to gauge community support for the village borrowing a portion of the money needed to complete a building project."