By, MIKE WARREN
The Evans Public Library, in Vandalia, is the recipient of a significant electric bill discount thanks to a special grant program offered by Ameren—an Illinois electric company. The status of the project to build a new library facility in Vandalia is currently moving forward, as architects check to ensure the designs are within code before construction begins. The current expectation for construction to begin is sometime in late summer of next year.
The objective of Ameren’s grant program awarded to the Evans Public Library is to assist small, nonprofit organizations that are electric customers of Ameren. Jessica Blain, the currently serving Director of Evans Public Library, successfully applied to the program on behalf of the library and received the $500 power bill discount, she has also been notified that the power company intends to follow up on this award with an additional $500 discount, for a total of $1,000 in utility bill savings for the Evans Public Library. The successful application to Ameren, written by Director Jessica Blain stated, “The library relies on local property tax for income. If the grant is received the entire community will benefit. This would allow for funds to be redirected to purchase library materials and to provide additional services to the community.”
A new library building is expected to begin construction in late summer of next year. Currently, the designs are being double-checked against new state and local building codes that have changed in recent years. While this double-checking of building designs occurs, Blain wants the public to know that the reason for the delay is merely “fine tuning” and not “reinventing the wheel.” These developments suggest that the project for the new library building is still moving forward.
Director Jessica Blain also spoke on a misunderstood feature in the ongoing designs for the new public library. According to Blain, the new library—still in the design phase, will not be strong enough to function as a safety bunker for large numbers of people during a crisis. It is important to note that there will be some tornado safety that will be built into the new library, however. The restrooms will be specially reinforced for the purpose of sheltering patrons in a tornado crisis.
Blain said the reinforced restrooms are for, “whoever is in the building at the time” that will be able to fit into the reinforced restroom area. The restrooms in the new library design will only be able to house a few people during such a crisis, and not large numbers of people, as some may believe at this time. For safety reasons, do not go to the library seeking shelter in a tornado.
While the new library project moves forward, the Evans Public Library continues to reach out to the community, helping with local literacy and providing special options for anyone who wants to access the library’s resources. Director Blain mentioned that the library has a large selection of online databases for individuals seeking old newspaper articles, genealogy information, maps, consumer reports, and certain books, among other items of interest. These resources can now be accessed through the Evans Public Library’s website, listed under the “resources” tab.
Additional services offered through Evans Public Library include a summer reading program provided for children and young adults, as well as a home delivery program for individuals with qualifying disabilities. The library also serves those who are considered generally “homebound” and need access to library resources. As a public service, the library also visits local places in need of reading materials. Some of these places visited by the library include nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities, to name just a few. Thanks to the successful application written by Director Blain, the public library will find it a little easier to carry on its mission of public service to the local community as we head into the new year.