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Library putting speaker fund to work for repairs

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Leaky gutters and other festering problems at the Greenwood Public Library are being repaired with money raised from a talk by former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight.

The Knight to Remember fundraiser brought in about $60,000, library director Cheryl Dobbs said. The library has been putting that money toward fixes it hadn’t been able to afford before, including a drainage project to stop flooding in the children’s department offices.

“We’re able to do a significant amount of things we had been putting off,” she said. “We’re addressing safety issues and doing maintenance now that will contain expenses later.”

The library still has a number of costly maintenance projects coming up, including a heating and air conditioning system that likely will need to be replaced in the next five years. Library officials are working out how to pay for those projects, Dobbs said. The library has been saving money for upcoming projects and unexpected repairs and also has been pursuing grants and donations, she said.

“The building is getting caught up more,” she said. “But we’re still facing major repairs.”

Financial struggles prevented the library from making those repairs over the past few years, and drops in property tax revenue required $480,000 in spending cuts last year. The library got a new director and board, reduced hours of operation and stepped up fundraising efforts.

The library has raised about $290,000 since 2010 by putting on more fundraising events, including Knight’s speech last fall.

About $20,000 from the Knight event is being set aside for the new Hilda Van Arsdale Library Fund, which will continue to fund repairs and programs over time, library director of development Jane Weisenbach said. The library plans to add to that fund every year and is considering making the Knight to Remember event the first in a series of annual fundraisers.

The library hasn’t worked out the details but could bring in speakers or basketball stars for a big fundraising event each year, she said.

Retired National Basketball Association stars Tom and Dick Van Arsdale have expressed interest in continuing to help the library after setting up last year’s fundraiser and establishing the memorial fund for their mother, Hilda, who was a longtime library patron, Weisenbach said.

The Van Arsdale family helps decide what the money in the fund gets spent on, Weisenbach said. They decided that the most pressing immediate need was to make long-overdue repairs to the library building.

Most of the repairs being done are aimed at improving safety or taking care of maintenance to help avoid bigger bills later, Dobbs said.

For example, the library has refinished floors in the main hallways that have needed work for at least five years and were at risk of becoming so worn-down they would need to be replaced.

Until this year, the library hadn’t been saving for repairs and other emergency expenses because of declining property tax revenues, Dobbs said.

But the fundraiser has allowed the library to tackle several maintenance projects, she said.

Last week, snow jacks on the roof were replaced to keep snow and ice from falling on the sidewalk around the building.

Workers also are fixing leaking gutters that had been leaving patches of ice and had caused people to slip and fall, Dobbs said.

Workers have installed new drainage and plugged a cracked pipe that had been causing flooding in the children’s department offices every time two to three inches of rain fell, Dobbs said.

The recurring flooding damaged the carpet, stressed out employees and required costly cleaning, she said.

In the next few weeks, Knight to Remember proceeds will help pay for the installation of new front doors. The current doors are drafty, inefficient and too easy for kids to run out of while their parents are checking out books, Dobbs said.

The doors will remain handicapped accessible but will be designed to make it harder for children to dash outside into the parking lot, she said.

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