SJCPL Main Street branch's grand re-opening hopes to bring community to the library and downtown

NOW: SJCPL Main Street branch’s grand re-opening hopes to bring community to the library and downtown

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The St. Joseph County Public Library's Main Street branch has been closed for renovations since 2019, but now the branch is finally ready to reopen its doors to the public, and local businesses are also excited by the possibility of bringing more people downtown. 

“Many people think that libraries are buildings filled with books, but truly, that is only part of the equation," said Jennifer Henecke, with the SJCPL. "Libraries are buildings filled with people and that is why we’re so excited to welcome the community back to their public library.”

The SJCPL branch in downtown South Bend is almost ready to unveil is extensive renovations that have been two years in the making. 

“We held a lot of focus groups asking the community what they felt that they needed, and then we addressed all of those," said Marissa Gebhard, the SJCPL's Communications Manager. 

The library has expanded its children's section-- creating a small-scale town for them to play and learn in, as well as a brand new space for teenagers, designed for them to hang out, study and have fun. 

The building also features brand new study rooms, reading spaces, and areas designed for the community to gather. 

“We have a lot more space for the community to come and use the study spaces, use spaces for meeting rooms and conferences and other special events," said Gebhard. "There’s a lot of places to just relax, maybe with a book, or check out some DVDs, or ask questions! If people need help with, maybe, finding a job or writing a resume or a cover letter, the library is here to do that.”

And local businesses are excited the library's reopening and its brand new spaces and resources will draw more people into the downtown area.

“Any sort of extra traffic or events happening are definitely beneficial to us, so we’re definitely excited,” said Jennifer Stone, with The Early Bird Eatery.

Adare Wilcox, from Pink Lemonade Pastries, added “There’s a lot of empty buildings this side of downtown, so I think having a big kind of attraction this side of the block will definitely bring more people.”

While there are still a few touches being made before the grand re-opening on Sunday, the library staff is ready to welcome visitors back home. 

The Executive Director of the SJCPL, Debra Futa, said “We’ve been on this spot for 125 years, and we’re setting the stage for another 125. So we’re new for now, but primed for the generations to come.”

The library will open on Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm, and will feature building tours every thirty minutes, as well as a free performance from the Tahlea String Quartet in the brand new auditorium at 2:00pm. 

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