East Moline library entering new era, larger facility

The new year will usher in a new era for the East Moline Public Library.

The library is expected to move into a newly renovated 21,000-square-foot building in February 2022.

Library Director Laura Long has been looking forward to the big move for quite some time.

“People are just really excited about the new library,” Ms. Long said. “(Library patrons) are well aware we don’t have enough space and they all want to know how they can be helpful in the process.”

The new library building will have more than twice the space as its current facility at 740 16th Ave.

If all goes according to schedule, the library will move from its current building across the street to 745 16th Ave. into a completely remodeled former TBK Bank building by mid February.

Ground was broken on the new library project in May.

As of Nov. 15, almost 75% of the $7.1 million library was complete with most of the major construction projects done. Ms. Long said much of the exterior work has been completed with interior projects, such as drywalling and painting, still in progress.

“They are ready to move forward on the project in bad weather,” she said of the construction crews.

Ms. Long said she is especially looking forward to the move because the library soon will have the space and resources to help more people in a changing era, as well as for projects it is unable to currently host. Some of those projects include:

  • A study room to host meetings, study groups and other functions that need “sound privacy.”
  • A much larger meeting room that can be divided into two rooms.
  • A laptop lending program.

Ms. Long said the new building will help transform the facility into a community “relationship library” and “not just a warehouse for books.”

The current library “has been a good building,” she said. “It has good bones, but it’s just not set up for modern library services.”

The library currently hosts more than 100,000 patrons a year. The new, bigger facility is expected to increase its use by 25%, according to the library’s website.

Once the move is made, the library will officially be known as the Louis E. Woodworth Building of the East Moline Public Library to honor a longtime library supporter.

Many patrons and other supporters have offered financial support for the library’s major capital project. Much of the $7.1 million cost, more than $6.5 million, was raised through a state grant, help from the City of East Moline and funding from the library and its foundation. In the past couple years, the library has spearheaded several events to raise the remaining needed funds.

One of those fundraising events came on Nov. 27 with a jewelry sale to help the library project. That event, presented by the Friends of the Library, featured nearly 1,500 rings ranging in prices from $1 to $25. About $4,000 was raised in the sale, according to initial estimates.

The rings came from James Hoffman, who inherited more than 50,000 items from his sister Rebecca’s costume jewelry collection. Rebecca, who died of cancer last year, put together her ring collection after years of auctions, thrifting and shopping.

Ms. Long said much of the fundraising is complete for construction. But the new building will feature a donor wall recognizing its supporters as well as host future fundraisers.

The library’s journey to this new era began in 2019 when TBK Bank donated its bank building and land for development of a new library. (TBK has since opened a new branch office in the same block at the corner of 7th Street and 16th Avenue.)

That value of the donation came to $1.5 million — the largest donation in East Moline’s history, Ms. Long said. 

“TBK Bank is committed to serving the people, business and community of East Moline. This block will be an important feature in the ongoing effort to revitalize downtown,” TBK Regional Bank President John DeDonker said at the time of the donation. 

However before the big donation from TBK Bank, Ms. Long said library officials had talked about building a new facility for many years. The problem was finding the money.

“Even 10 years ago, we were looking at $5 million for a new library,” she added.

The East Moline Public Library opened in its current building in 1935. The last major addition was about 1950, she said.

The library has 15 paid staff members, both full-time and part-time. That staffing level is not expected to change in the new building, Ms. Long added.


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