New library being built in Crete to include computer lab, storm shelter
Ground has been broken in Crete for a new library building, replacing one that has been located on East 13th Street since 1913.
Sampson Construction is handling the project, and the new library will be completed by December of next year. Crete Mayor Roger Foster said the library is expected to open in the spring of 2020.
The project was set in motion in November 2016, when Crete residents voted on a bond that, among other things, would allow funding for the new library to be built.
“It was between 12 or 13 votes on the initiative,” Foster said. “I had maybe 50 to 100 interesting conversations about the ballot measure, and I hope I convinced more people to support the initiative than oppose it.”
The new library, which will be on the site of an old hospital off Hawthorne Avenue, will serve as a community space, with a water feature and a park on the lot.
“There had been talk about a new library for some time, even when I first got on city council,” Foster said. “There was a study about putting it in City Park, but that wasn’t the most optimum.”
Foster said one of the key focuses of the new library is having a safe place for community members to go during an emergency.
Along with a public storm shelter in the library that anyone in Saline County can use, the bond also allowed the Crete Police Department to hire two new officers.
“I hope it is a storm shelter we never have to use,” Foster said. “In the prime of tornado season, though, people go to the park and find themselves without anywhere safe to go.”
Foster said the idea of a community storm shelter was last brought up about 10 years ago.
Along with the safety features, the new facility will also have upgraded computer technology.
Windstream donated $50,000 for a computer lab in the new library, Foster said.
“We want to make sure everything will be the newest of the new,” he said. “The checkout process will be automated, and we will have a completely different type of library.”
Foster said local libraries like the one in Crete do much more than just provide books.
The Crete Public Library hosts speakers and events for children, summer reading programs and movie nights, which Foster said will be much easier in the new location.
“This library engulfed all of our needs at once,” Foster said.
The new facility will cost taxpayers in Crete just under $6 million, including the water feature and park space nearby. Foster said the city hasn’t decided what will happen to the old library.