Foundation raising funds as efforts to build new library move forward

The Gering Public Library on Wednesday. Members of the Library Board and Library Foundation are working to raise money to pay for the purchase of land and to cover the costs of building a new library.

Members of the Gering Library Foundation are continuing to move forward with fundraising efforts for the new library.

“The current one has outgrown our needs for storage, programming, staff and community access,” Suzanne Myers, who is part of the library board and acts as a liaison between the board and Library Foundation, said.

She said that members of the board have been exploring the possibility for an improved facility for many years. The current library, adjacent to city hall, was built in 1962.

“It was last remodeled in 1964,” Myers said.

The building is difficult and costly to remodel, because it was built out of concrete to serve as a storm shelter.

“It would be much more advantageous to start from scratch,” Myers said.

The original building cost about $82,000 to build, which would be about $735,503 today. Estimates have the cost of the new library at around $6 million, but Myers said the cost could fluctuate by the time the project gets started. She said they hope to break ground within the next five years.

The new facility will be a universal design. Universal design is a design process that ensures a structure is usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaption or specialized design, according to The Universal Design Project.

“It’s going to be wonderful for people of all abilities, all ages and all interests,” Myers said.

Additionally, they hope to have green space outside the library that will not only make it more attractive, but will also offer a place for children to play, including those with disabilities.

“There really are no play areas around here for kids with physical disabilities,” Myers said. “We think that’s one thing we can add to give the entire community an opportunity to have something they can enjoy.”

Myers said she has received a lot of messages of support from the community regarding the project.

“We’ve got a really great community,” she said. “It’s very progressive, but the library is behind the times.”

They’ve received a number donations designated to the purchase of the property and the anticipated costs of a new facility. Several people have donated or are considering donating the required minimum distributions from investments to the Gering Library, through the Oregon Trail Community Foundation.

The required minimum distribution is the minimum amount a person must withdrawal from their retirement plan or IRA once they reach the age of 70.5. This additional taxable income can push someone into a higher tax bracket or reduce their eligibility for certain deductions and tax credits. Investors can avoid or reduce the impact of required minimum distributions by making a qualified charitable distribution.

A major fundraising campaign is being planned for later this fall and there are plans for several special events throughout the year. Myers said that WyoBraska Day of Giving, on May 5, 2020, will likely boost their fundraising progress and the foundation is also planning to have a garage sale next June.

The fundraising won’t stop when the new library is completed.

“We’ll continue to support the library even after we build the building,” Myers said.

Myers said that volunteers will be needed for special events and she encouraged anyone who was interested in helping out to call her at 436-5426.

Donations can be made out to the Gering Library Foundation and taken to the library or taken to the Oregon Trail Community Foundation with a note that the donation is designated toward the Gering Library Foundation Fund.

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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