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Somerset Library Board approves library expansion support study

The Somerset Library Board of Trustees recently voted to approve the hiring of the consulting firm Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC to study the feasibility and community support for expanding the Somerset Public Library. Photo courtesy of the Somerset Public Library

Based on its assessment of existing and future library needs, the Somerset Library Board of Trustees hired the consulting firm Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC during a recent meeting to study the feasibility and community support for expanding the Somerset Public Library.

"We are excited about the proposed expansion of the Somerset Library and believe it will continue to provide a space for gathering and learning for many years to come," said Kay Walsh, president of the Somerset Library Board. "The library has been a vibrant part of our community life. We hope the community will join us providing feedback on this planning effort which is many years in the making."

The study will ask for input on how the library can fulfill the needs of the community, identify support for the proposed $2.5 million building expansion, assess the area's financial climate, volunteer leadership, and the importance residents place on the library for the Somerset community. A 20-member Campaign Study Committee helped identify approximately 65 area residents who will be invited to interviews with the consultants. The 30-40 minute confidential interviews and focus groups will be held July 25-26.

The library expansion will provide:

• Increased space for youth and adult programming

• Public meeting space for up to 100 persons with access separate from the library

• Provision for new technologies

• A floor plan requiring a minimum of staffing, while providing staff needs for appropriate working space and storage

• Several small study/conference rooms

• An area for local history and genealogy

• Full, unrestricted access for the elderly and physically challenged and full compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements

Use of the library has seen a lot of growth. In 1993, when the current location opened, 14,375 items were checked out. In 2016, 53,725 items were checked out — more than three times the number in 1993. It was the library board's intention in 1993 that the facility could expand in the future. The original construction plan included omitting electrical from one side of the building to provide for easier expansion on the vacant lot adjacent to the library.

"We invite the public to also provide feedback via an online survey accessed through the library's website at somersetlibrary.org from July 5 through the end of the month," said library director Ginny Scheiderer.

The Campaign Readiness Study Committee and Library Board will receive the recommendations from the study in late August.

Crescendo Fundraising Professionals specializes in fundraising for municipal facilities and nonprofits. The firm has been successful managing fundraising campaigns for multi-million dollar projects in small communities and large cities, including seven library capital campaigns. Advisors serving the study include Ellen Hongerholt, MA, principal consultant/owner, Brianna Pyka, MBA, and Jamie Schloegel, CFRE.

For more information, contact Ginny Scheiderer at 715-247-5228 or by email scheiderer@somersetlibrary.org.

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