Janesville66°

Kids join effort to pass final items to new Brodhead library

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GINA R. HEINE
March 6, 2009
— "Book!" one boy yelled as he passed one down the line.

"Magazine!" came the voice of a girl taking the next item.


"CD!" yelled another student as they quickly passed the library items down the line.


"It's the last one!" someone yelled as the final item made it to the corner of 3rd Avenue and 12th Street.


"And there goes the library," a teacher said as that block of energetic kids handed off the last item in the spring-like weather Thursday afternoon.


About 450 kids from preschool to fifth grade, teachers and parents lined the nearly 20 blocks between the old library to the new library at 1207 25th St., to complete the move.


Organizers of the book pass wanted students to feel part of the new library and be exposed to the variety of items available there, director Gloria Rosa said. Professionals already had moved about 50,000 items.


The students passed the last 50 items across town in anticipation of the library's opening Tuesday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. A grand opening celebration is planned for May 17.


Library officials including Rosa and board member Jerry Elmer, who have poured countless hours to make the new facility a reality, watched the kids eagerly dart off with a book to the next person in line.


The opening took a decade to plan. Officials and community members spent years discussing, researching and designing for the new library, and plans had to be scaled back considerably before it became a reality.


Earlier designs called for up to a $3.8 million project, so "a lot of the dreams were taken away" to get it down to an affordable size, Elmer said. Elmer has a construction background and worked as the board's representative with contractors throughout the building process.


The city achieved the $1.6 million project through value engineering—getting by with what you need, not necessarily want—and building with future expansion in mind, Elmer said.


That meant areas such as a children's bathroom were cut, Rosa said, but after years of planning, she was happy with a roof and four walls.


"It was a long process," Rosa said, camera in hand. "(Sometimes) I actually wondered if it'd ever come to be."


The city committed $1 million toward the project, and the library and Brodhead Foundation raised more than a half million dollars.


The results: A 15,000-square-foot building that quadruples the size of the old library. It includes a 3,000-square-foot community room, quiet room, study room, genealogy room, VFW room, computer area and a foyer that allows the community room to be used when the library is closed.


Roberts Construction out of Madison was the contractor while another Madison firm, Dimension IV, completed the architecture.


The new location within walking distance of the schools will be more convenient for students, Rosa said. In the past, kids had to be bused to the library.



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