Ceremonial ground breaking for Thompson-Hickman Library addition

Construction on a building addition does not begin until the spring, but staff at the Thompson-Hickman Madison County Library and patrons celebrated building permit approval with a ceremonial groundbreaking last week.

Jack Albrecht, library director, and assistant librarian Christina Koch expressed their appreciation for all the county, library board and staff, grant writer, and former staff has done to make this building addition possible. Koch read a letter from former Library Director Joanne Erdall.

Albrecht said the $650,000 addition will allow the library to better serve the area’s population and an updated archive space will allow the county to bring together its many archival materials that are currently spread throughout the Virginia City area.

Funding for the project comes via several means, including a one-time mill levy of six mills that passed on May 7, 2013, in a countywide election. The one-time payment will be $8.30 for a home with a value of $100,000 and $16.60 for a home with a value of $200,000. Nondi Harrington, the library’s fundraising campaign manager, continues to apply for grants. Erdall applied for a matching grant from the Kendeda Fund.  The grant was awarded to the library and will match up to $125,000 in donations from private donors.

Built in 1918, the current library building is 884 square feet and has served as such since 1923. The addition, designed by David Grigsby, will include a children’s book and learning center, two new ADA compliant restrooms with hot water in the upper level. The addition will add 5,616 square feet.

“We have no hot water at present and only one non-ADA compliant restroom,” Albrecht said.

The addition will also have energy conserving building components. Community members and organizations will have access from a separate entrance to a multimedia and meeting room. There will also be a separate computer and media room as well as a climate controlled repository for the preservation of all the county’s historically sensitive archives with an air-lock research room in the lower level. The existing structure will be restored as a large reading room.

“The community room and the children’s room will allow the library to offer new programs,” Albrecht said. “The community room will also provide an additional venue for meetings – something that’s always in high demand.”

Paul Babb, a Northwestern Energy representative, presented the library staff and board with a $2,000 check at the groundbreaking ceremony. This donation is one of the largest Northwestern Energy gives out and is second only to donations made to area food banks. Albrecht said the money will go into the building fund for the new addition.

Residents and visitors will still have access to all the library’s materials until they approach the end of the project and the materials are moved into the new addition.

“The library serves all of Madison County with a service population of approximately 7,700,” Albrecht said. “The library should have at least 30,000 titles – books, audio books, DVDs – to serve that number of people and the library can only support approximately 10,000 items.”

The building plan was approved by the State Historic Preservation Office and building permits were approved by the Virginia City Historic Preservation Advisory Committee and Virginia City Council. More information about the addition is available online at www.savemontanahistory.com.

The library is still accepting donations and sponsorships for finishing and furnishing rooms. To donate, make the donation payable to Thompson-Hickman County Library and mail to P.O. Box 128 Virginia City, MT 59755. To donate to a specific room, please contact the library at 217 Idaho Street, 843-5346 or vclibry@3rivers.net.

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