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Marseilles library to add exterior elevator

The usual change at the Marseilles Public Library is on the shelves: new books, DVDs and other materials.

But this summer an exterior elevator will be installed as part of a $105,000 project to make the building handicapped accessible.

The first-floor restroom also will be remodeled Tuesday, April 10, through Saturday, April 14, requiring the library to be closed during that period.

“It hasn’t been an easy project to figure out when you’re dealing with an old Carnegie building,” Mayor Jim Hollenbeck said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. At the meeting a $20,033 pay estimate to Liebhart Construction was approved.

“We still want to keep the nice look,” he said.

The Greek Revival-style library was built in 1905-1906, largely with a $10,000 donation from businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It is one of 1,689 Carnegie libraries built in United States. Streator, La Salle and Peru also still have functioning Carnegie libraries.

The Marseilles library had a matching rear addition dedicated in 1939. Since then, the facility’s exterior appearance has remained virtually unchanged.

Before the elevator was settled on, a ramp was considered, but it was estimated to cost $25,000, said Director Jan Ambrose.

The enclosed exterior elevator — big enough to accommodate a wheelchair — will be installed on the backside of the library along with an access walkway.

The $105,00 remodeling project is roughly equal to the library’s annual operating budget, Ambrose said.

The handicapped accessibility work will be paid for with a $42,000 grant from the state with the rest coming from the city.

The restroom remodeling will account for about one-third of the budget and the elevator the rest.

They will be appreciated improvements, Ambrose predicted.

“I think that elevator’s going to be used a lot more than we realize,” she said.

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