Since Willard Library opened in 1885, it has provided quality programs and unique resources for the community. Last year the library sponsored 800 programs and served close to 17,000 patrons — all packed into 15,000 square feet of space.
Last December, library director Greg Hager announced that for the first time in nearly 130 years, Willard will expand, adding an 8,000-square-foot facility to the historic building. “Everything about this project is patron-driven,” says Hager. “It opens up a number of possibilities.”
The new addition, designed by Jack Faber of Hafer Associates, will be a $2.4 million project. Due to Willard’s status as the oldest public library building in Indiana, the library’s board of trustees had hoped to avoid significantly altering the physical appearance of the building or the grounds. With this in mind, the board opted for an underground expansion. Any alterations above ground will be designed to look like a Victorian garden wall, matching the Victorian Gothic style of the library itself. The expansion also will incorporate an outdoor picnic area where families can sit in the shade and enjoy games available in the library.
For some time, the library has been in need of extra space for its expansive archives, which include 40,000 historic photographs of Evansville as well as local business records, architectural drawings, maps, and much more. Currently, most of these archives are kept on Willard’s second floor. Due to limited space, however, some of these resources have been moved to a warehouse in Garvin Industrial Park. The new facility will include extra storage space for these archives as well as a reading room with tables for patrons to peruse materials. The reading room will feature the name “Lankford,” named for former Old National Bank CEO Ron Lankford. A gallery space will be included in the addition as well, named “Browning” for the owners of Browning Funeral Home — a family of avid researchers.
“This project will give us the capacity that I believe is necessary to support this business not only now but into the future,” Hager says.
Construction for the library is planned for 8 to 10 months, beginning this summer and ending in the spring of 2014. The library will accept contributions for the project until June 30.
For more information about Willard Library or about donating to the expansion project, call 812-425-4309 or visit www.willard.lib.in.us.