Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White awarded a $10,800,000 Public Library Construction Act grant to the Aurora Public Library (APL) at a ceremony held at the library on March 4. Secretary White and Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) Executive Director Deirdre (Dee) Brennan attended the ceremony on March 4, 2013, along with other library officials and dignitaries: Aurora Public Library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill, Aurora Public Library Board President John Savage, and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner. The Illinois State Library (ISL) issued a press release about the event and RAILS did as well.
“Public libraries like the Aurora Public Library are the cornerstones of our communities providing educational enjoyment to all,” White said. “This new program allows my office to allocate as much as $50 million to libraries throughout Illinois. Together with funds generated locally, we are ensuring that these public libraries can continue to fulfill the important information needs of their patrons. I congratulate the Aurora Public Library on being the first library to receive a grant under this important new public library construction program.”
“This grant will help fund the construction of a state-of-the-art library for users of all ages while greatly lessening the impact on Aurora’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Weisner. "The new library will be an educational epicenter that--- along with Waubonsee Community College’s new building, RiverEdge Park, the new Downer Place bridges, and several other projects--- will positively impact downtown development. It will also help create a better educated workforce, which is important to the long-term economic vitality of the entire community. On behalf of all Aurora citizens, I want to thank Secretary of State Jesse White and the State of Illinois for their generous support as we enter this new and exciting chapter for Aurora.”
The $10,800,000 grant will be applied to the $28,000,000 cost of building a new downtown public library. The City of Aurora is responsible for matching the state funding, in order to receive the grant by June 30, 2013.
Construction is set to begin this spring on a 92,000-square-foot facility to be built on the southwest corner of River and Benton streets. The Public Library Construction Grant Program is part of a $31,000,000,000 capital construction program approved in 2009 by Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois General Assembly.
A total of $50,000,000 was provided for permanent capital improvements to public libraries. The Office of the Secretary of State and the ISL are authorized to administer the funding.
The efforts of Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes and Illinois State Reps. Linda Chapa La Via, Stephanie Kifowit, Mike Fortner and Tom Cross support library initiatives throughout Illinois. The program is funded by the sale of state bonds and is designed to assist libraries with major construction and remodeling needs. Applications were ranked based on the age of library buildings and the last time substantial work was completed on the facilities; the size of the library in relation to the population it serves; and whether life/safety issues were being addressed with the building improvements.
The amount of state funding awarded to each library is only a percentage of the total cost of the project, and was determined by a mathematical formula included in the legislation. Any remaining project costs are a local responsibility, and libraries will receive the funding in FY 2013 (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) only if local financing is arranged and approved by June 30, 2013.
On Monday, July 11, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously upheld as constitutional a $31,000,000,000 capital construction program the Illinois General Assembly had approved in 2009. This reversed an appellate court ruling in January.