CROWN POINT | Officials dug into the dirt Wednesday at one of the few vacant lots in downtown, beginning work on a new $12 million library.
Library Director Lynn Frank described the almost decade-long quest to get a new, larger library built to replace an older, smaller structure several blocks south.
"It takes a community to raise a library," Frank said.
The 46,750-square-foot library is expected to open in January 2013 in the 100 block of North Main Street.
Selection of the site, at the north end of the downtown square, came after years of searching for the right location, one able to house not only the large building but ample parking, Frank said.
The site selection also came after a sampling of public opinion that made one thing clear, Frank said.
"They wanted us to keep the library downtown," she said.
Libraries have defied predictions of becoming obsolete in a digital age, Frank said.
One of the first libraries to offer computers to the public, "we modified our services to be what the community needs," Frank said.
The new library will have "lots and lots of computers," Frank said, along with much needed community meeting rooms.
Mayor David Uran said some questioned the need for a new library in an economic downturn.
"But the community stood up," he said. "This means so much to the community."
The red-brick library will occupy about a half block, rising to three stories at its peak.
The structure will border Main Street to the west and East Street to the east, with its entry facing south near the middle of the block.
The original library opened in 1908 in the Carnegie Center on South Main Street, built with a $12,000 donation from U.S. industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie Center annex housing the library was built in 1972.