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Lock it up: Downtown Roberts facility wraps up its run

The Hazel Mackin Community Library will close its doors at the Main Street location for the final time on Aug. 6. The library will be closed for about a month while materials are moved and organized at the new building on West Warren Street.

Roberts' Hazel Mackin Community Library will close its doors to the community for the last time on Friday, Aug. 6.

But rather than closing because of troubles, the library is shutting its doors because of community support.

In approximately three years the community raised $1.6 million to construct a new library. That building, located on West Warren Street, is set to open on or around Sept. 1.

"We were able to successfully raise an extraordinary amount of money at a time when some people said it could not be done," said Katy Kapaun, library board member and village trustee, in an e-mail. "Here is the best part: Our community will have a beautiful new library."

But the closing of the Main Street library building isn't without a little sadness.

The building - formerly used as a pub, blacksmith shop, village hall and fire hall - first had a corner designated as the Hazel Mackin Community Library in 1974, thanks to the efforts of the Community Women in Action group, said Dora Rohl, library board president and member of the former action group. In the 1980s the village built a new village hall, and the entire building was designated as the Hazel Mackin Community Library.

Rohl and her sister Barbara have been working with the library all of those 36 years.

"As we relate this story of the library's beginning and growth with all the effort that has gone into it by our community's people, some of whom are no longer living, it is with excitement that we will move into a new building but also with some sorrow as we leave behind a building which has so many memories and has made so many happy," the Rohls wrote.

Kathy Miller, assistant library director, has been working at the library for 30 years.

"For me it's only bittersweet in the fact that it's been all those things in the past and in the new library we won't be able to say 'Here was the village hall and here was the fire hall,'" Miller said. "That and not having an 'eye on Main Street' and not being so close to the Roberts Grocery Store will be the things I will miss."

Brenda Hackman started her career as a library director at the Main Street building in April 2008.

"It is sometimes hard to grasp that we will be moving," Hackman said. "I told someone to bring a camera next week to take pictures of the old building since it will be the last week we are open and I got a little choked up."

A few patrons have commented that they'll miss the "cozy feeling" of the Main Street building, Hackman said.

"But with our growth they know that it is time and it is hard to look around when we are so crowded," she added. The Main Street building is about 1,600 square feet; the Warren Street building is 7,000 square feet.

Most patrons have been very excited since breaking ground on the new building on Nov. 3, 2009.

"We hear daily from parents saying that every time they leave home their children want to drive by the library and see the progress," Miller said.

The Warren Street building will have room to research, read and hold community functions.

"The building is beautiful and it flows so well for our patrons and staff," Hackman said. "There's such a positive energy in the building from all the natural sunlight."

Not only that, but the entire $1.6 million cost was raised without asking taxpayers to take it on.

"I think it is really something to be extremely proud of doing," Miller said. Helping in fund raising were grant writers, library staff and those who donated to or purchased from bake sales, auctions and the like.

The Roberts library has a history of strong community support. When it first opened its doors in 1974, books were donated, and operating expenses were raised through bake sales and donations. When the library expanded in the 1980s, funding for the remodeling was gathered through softball tournaments, auctions, selling merchandise and other donations.

Even though the library's doors will close on Friday, library staff will continue to report to work at the Main Street building. They'll be packing, organizing, mapping new locations for books at the Warren Street building and cleaning.

"Due to the small size of the building it will not be safe with boxes, etc. to have the building open to the public," Hackman explained.

Volunteers with Target Corp. will be completing the physical move on Aug. 19.

Once everything is at the Warren Street building, library staff will take time to organize and familiarize themselves with the layout.

Being library-less

While the employees of the library are preparing for the move, patrons are preparing for the library being closed for about a month.

"Many are preparing for the move by taking out extra items both to help us have less to move and so that they will have enough to read while we are closed," Miller said.

Because Roberts is part of the MORE System, patrons can visit 48 other libraries including Hammond, Baldwin, New Richmond, River Falls and Hudson to check out books and pick up holds.

Books can be returned to the Main Street building until the day they move; that day the Warren Street building drop slot will be open. It's located on the parking lot side of the building. Signs will be posted at the drop boxes.

Books and media can be renewed online, at other libraries or by calling the Roberts library.

To stay current on library developments, visit and click on "The Next Chapter," or e-mail robertsl to be put on the e-mail update list.