Study supports fundraising campaign to expand Somerset Library

Body: 

The Somerset Library Board of Trustees has approved a contract with Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC, to initiate a $2.5 million capital campaign to triple the library's existing space. The firm has consulted on multiple campaigns involving libraries, aquatic centers and community centers for municipalities. According to Crescendo owner Ellen Hongerholt, the results were based on positive input from community members, area leaders and the philanthropic community. Hongerholt and advisor Jamie Schloegel will manage the campaign.

The Campaign Readiness Study provided the opportunity for area residents to share their ideas and thoughts, helped identify top leadership potential, evaluated the current economic climate and favorable conditions, identified possible challenges to address, and developed a preliminary timeline for the campaign. A copy of the study is available online at somersetlibrary.org.

Among many promising factors pointing to moving forward is an anonymous lead challenge gift of $500,000 plus other significant gifts. In addition, the library board of trustees has accrued a savings of $140,000 which has been designated for this project. Results indicated the goal is attainable and has support from a majority of Somerset's leaders with philanthropic ties and leanings.

Expanding the current building has been the vision of the library board for the last several years in order to respond to the community's evolving needs for information and services. Patron usage has increased dramatically to an average of 177 patrons daily. Library staff have experienced increasingly high levels of requests for materials. Most recently, in March over 4,000 items were checked out. After 24 years in the 3,500-square foot building, space is limited for materials, public-access computers, meeting rooms for both small and large groups, teen activities, genealogy and local history research, storage, and children's activities. Moreover, the library is only partially compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Expanding the library is expected to offer:

• Increased space for all programming, especially for teens

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

• Unrestricted access for the elderly and physically challenged with full ADA compliance

• Increased number of public computers for accessing online resources

• Genealogy and local historical storage

After all the planning steps have been completed, the solicitation stage is slated for late 2017 when informational sessions will begin to educate and engage individuals, organizations and businesses about the expansion.

The first committee meetings for the campaign will be held Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Somerset Library. The Case and Communications committees will meet at 5 p.m. and the Steering Committee at 6:15 p.m. The Building and Prospect committees will begin to meet in October. Volunteers are needed and welcome. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Ginny Scheiderer at 715-247-5228 or scheiderer@somersetlibrary.org.