Willard Library to undergo first ever expansion - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Willard Library to undergo first ever expansion

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Willard Library has announced plans for 8000 square foot, $2.4 Million expansion. It is the first expansion since the building went up in 1885.

It will primarily be underground and will include more archival and meeting room space. 

Willard library officials say the area where that expansion will be is on the library's east side and most of that new space will be underground.

"About a good five, six years ago I've been a regular patron," said Robert Johnson.

Robert Johnson is one of many people who frequent Evansville's Willard Library and says he's excited to see it grow.

"I think it'd be a good thing," Johnson said.

Jon Rich, CEO of Berry Plastics will serve as the Capital Campaign Committee Chairman.

Willard Library Director, Greg Hager, stated, "With Willard Library and Berry Plastics being such close neighbors, the choice of Jon Rich to spearhead this campaign just seemed like a natural fit. Willard and Berry have worked together for years to improve the library park and the Division St/ First Ave/ Franklin Street corner of the Jacobsville Neighborhood, we consider Berry Plastics to be one of Evansville's finest corporate citizens and are excited to be working together in this historic undertaking. An expansion of Willard Library has never been done, this is truly a once-in-several lifetimes event and will enhance Willard Library as a destination." 

To help pay the $2.4 Million price tag, the Capital Campaign Committee will be seeking $800,000 in corporate, foundation and individual contributions.

The below ground expansion of Willard Library will create a larger space for the irreplaceable library archives, an archives reading room and a Gallery capable of seating 160 people that can be used for library programs, art and history exhibits, and other business and community gatherings—all of which is presently unavailable in the historic 15,000 square foot building. 

"Kind of give it the appearance of a Victorian walled garden, complete with plantings," Hager said.

Hager says it's important to make sure the new addition matches Willard's historic style.

"That's something that we are very, very sensitive about and we've been discussing this for awhile," Hager told 14 News.

Local architectural firm, Hafer Associates, has been hired to design a facility that is compatible with the historic architecture of Willard Library, the oldest public library building in the State of Indiana.  The new addition will blend with the existing 1885 gothic building and park by adopting the appearance of a Victorian garden wall.

Hager tells 14 News that Willard is Indiana's oldest library building and he hopes the expansion will make even more people want to come check it out.

"It definitely makes Willard Library more attractive as a destination," Hager said.

Hager says a campaign committee will be looking for about $800,000 in donations.

Officials hope to start by the end of summer, and to have the whole thing finished by spring of 2014.

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