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St. Joseph County Public Library project moves forward

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A massive renovation and expansion to the Main Street branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library is one step closer to reality.

Monday the South Bend Common Council approved a memorandum of agreement between the St. Joseph County Public Library, and the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County that would help fund the project which could cost anywhere from $36 to $38 million.

Under the agreement, the library would pay $20 million, the foundation would add $10 million, and the city would give $4 million. The council also approved a $4.8 million bond issue that would help the project at a meeting earlier in the day.

The library says this project will help the library better serve its approximately 114,000 card holders in the county.

Officials add the project is still in the planning phases, but the project will likely include expanded children and teen areas, outdoor space, more technology, and a new education center.

The last renovation happened in the 1990s. The library says a lot has changed since then.

“We’re hoping that the impact of the renovations will be that we’re able to do more for them,” said communications specialist Jennifer Henecke. “We’ll be able to offer more services that we just can’t accommodate at the moment. More author talks, being able to bring in more partnerships with other organizations.”

These tentative plans are based off community input from 2017.

Henecke says there is no clear start date, but the project is moving forward. The library hopes to see some sort of development in 2019.

“We’re becoming more of a community center, a place for people to come and connect,” said Henecke. “We want to make sure that we’re the best possible library for South Bend, that we can be some place for generations in the future and be able to experience connection and learning.”

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