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With more than one year in the books, Gibson Memorial Library capital campaign going strong

Gibson Memorial Library’s capital campaign “Building on our Legacy” is now more than one year in the books. Fundraising officially began in August of 2016, and the volunteer-driven effort has since raised about $400,000 of its $2.9 million goal.

Library Director David Hargrove hopes the fundraising will be complete in two to three years, depending on several grant applications the library is working on. The capital campaign’s goal is to fund the construction of a new, attached structure in the south lot currently owned by the library. The library’s current structure was built in 1931.

“This plan is a very strong complement to this particular facility,” said Hargrove. “It restores an east entrance, but the real, attractive reason for adding more space is so that we can host more children’s programming at the library,” said Hargrove. “We’ll have children’s programs where 200 or so people will come out, and we just don’t have that space.”

In addition to more space for children’s programming, Hargrove stresses additional space for public meetings along with more space for books and materials as the primary reasons behind the library’s desire to expand.

The library board has pursued plans to move Gibson Memorial Library twice in the past 20 years. According to Hargrove, expansion at the library’s existing location was found to be the most ideal solution.

“Two times in the last 20 years, the board has pursued plans to move the library elsewhere,” said Hargrove, “and people said ‘No, this is our library.’ And we’ve been here since 1931, so there are a lot of people that just associate it (with the library), and can’t bare the idea of the library moving out of here.”

Library board member Connie Maxson was formerly the Shenandoah Community School District superintendent. And according to Maxson, she noticed during her time in Shenandoah that a strong library provides a variety of benefits to a community, and warrants investment.

“When people pick a community to move to,” said Maxson, “they first of all look at the jobs, but also quality of life. And oftentimes people look at the schools, recreational opportunities, religious opportunities, and then quality of life is the big one — and we think the library is a huge quality of life opportunity that people can come and take advantage of.”

Hargrove and Maxson also explained that the board has identified several similar sized communities in southwest Iowa, including Red Oak, Shenandoah and Clarinda that have expanded their libraries in a similar manner, and seen a 50 to 100 percent increase in the number of visits to the library’s surrounding area — which would be uptown Creston in the Gibson Memorial Library’s case.

“Creston represents the only public library in Union County,” Maxson said. “For people from Afton, Arispe and Thayer and all the areas around, this is the public space that they can come and get internet access and whatnot, but we just don’t have enough space to accommodate children’s programming or the number of calls (we) get for public meeting space.”

Hargrove pointed at the Union County Fair’s recent successfully completed capital campaign “Building on Tradition” as representative of the community’s desire to give, and better their community.

“Obviously we know that the Afton fairgrounds capital campaign wrapped up successfully recently,” said Hargrove, “and my hope is that folks in the community will be behind this one too — I think the time has come for this particular plan in the community.”

Those wishing to support “Building on our Legacy” may do so in a variety of ways, including cash and noncash gifts, holding fundraising parties or volunteering for one of the campaign’s fundraising committees. Contact Gibson Memorial Library at 641-782-2277 for more information.

In addition, small and large yard signs advertising the library’s capital campaign are available for a small donation.

“It really was a successful year,” summarized Hargrove. “If you look at other successful capital campaigns, you have money from grants, money from a few major businesses or donors and then you have money from the folks in the community who are able to give. And my sense is we have the public support to make this happen.”

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