Local government officials and Friends of the Corbin Public Library joined the library board last Thursday to “break ground” on the construction phase of the library expansion project.
To date, the project has involved gutting the adjoining building, which the library purchased in 2016 with an eye toward expanding.
“Until you are here day in and day out and see the things that we do, you don’t realize that people from all walks of life come through the library,” said Library Director Donna Chadwell. “We are here and we are serving the community. We see needs and we meet them.”
While both floors have been gutted, initial plans call for the construction of a community room, conference room, staff office and café area on the first floor.
In 2017, the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives offered a $636,000 repayable grant to fund the proposed renovations.
As part of the terms of the grant, the library had to put up $100,000 of its own money.
The grant is a debt-retirement grant, meaning the library board would secure financing for the project and the KDLA would provide annual funding to repay a portion of the debt over the next 20 years.
Under the terms of the KDLA money, the Corbin Library must repay $654,000.
However, the initial cost of the project came in at $1.2 million, forcing the board to find areas to cut with an eye toward completing them as funding permitted.
One area was the proposed kitchen.
Library Board Chair Rob Miller said Thursday that the board initially planned to have the kitchen area on the first floor roughed in, as the budget did not allow for the purchase of the cabinets and appliances.
However, the Ossoli Club of Corbin stepped in with a $10,000 donation to equip the kitchen.
“The Ossoli Club is a great friend to the library,” Chadwell said.
Miller explained that the kitchen would be set up to allow food to be served to the café and new community room.
“We are hoping to have a portable buffet area to permit cooking displays,” Miller said.
The renovations are expected to be completed in July.
Once completed, the library will feature four meeting-style rooms. Chadwell noted that the library’s current community room and small meeting room are in constant demand.
“We turn people away because we are booked most all of the time,” Chadwell said explaining that it is a combination of library programs and people using the rooms for their own events that keep the rooms occupied.
Board member Brenda Jones credited Chadwell for the increased activity and patronage at the library since she was named director in 2018. Jones noted that it is not just Corbin residents, but people from across the area that are using the library.
“She has done an amazing job,” Jones said of Chadwell. “She knows how to connect with people.
Donations to help fund the remainder of the project are welcome and accepted. The library is a non-profit organization, so donations are tax deductible.