Campaign hopes to raise $4.2 million for construction of a Seaford Library. Locally-raised funds will help establish $1 million endowment fund for future library operations.

By Lynn R. Parks

A campaign to raise money for the construction of a $4.8 million library in Seaford will get underway soon. According to a press release sent out last week by Laura Davis Mears, a development consultant hired by the Seaford District Library, the library "will launch a $4.2 million campaign early this year to raise money locally for the construction of a new library facility." That money will include $2.4 million for the actual construction of the 18,000-square-foot facility; the state will pay the remaining $2.4 million in construction costs. The locally-raised funds will also include $200,000 for furniture and equipment, $600,000 for operations and $1 million for an endowment fund to pay for future operations in the library. The campaign will begin in February, Mears said. "The special events committee has several events planned for the duration of the campaign, some as fundraisers, some as awareness builders," Mears said. "We are anxious to get started with our fundraising effort," said Barb Allen, co-chair of the fundraising campaign. "We are seeking commitments from community businesses and individuals, and we really need the community to step to the plate. This will improve our chances of securing grants from private foundations and corporations. They want to see that we have significant support in our backyard before considering investing in our project." Mears said that the library has raised nearly $500,000. Included in that is a $100,000 donation from Warren Allen, for whom the library's conference room will be named. The conference room will house a collection of Sussex County genealogy and memorabilia. Mears said that the library would like to raise half of the local funds before starting construction. "We hope to break ground mid- to late-summer," she added. Construction should take about a year. Construction manager for the project is Nason Construction. Architect is Studio JAED, Wilmington. The library board has been working since 2001 on a plan to replace the 9,000-square-foot Porter Street facility, built in 1963. In 2003, the board purchased from the city about four acres of land in the Ross Business Park, next to the Ross Plantation. Cost of the land was $127,000.

In September, the Seaford City Council approved preliminary site plans for the building. Board members say that the current library is too small to serve the community. "We are very crowded," said Dr. Edie Villasenor, president of the library board. "Book stacks overwhelm seating and there is very little space available for public access computers." Computer usage has increased 67 percent over the last two years, she added. "We have maximized all available space for library materials, computers, events and activities, as well as staff. With new patron registration continuing to increase each year, and the expected growth of the library service area, we have to do something." "Expansion of the existing library is not an option due to lack of available land and the extensive amount work needed to the existing structure," Mears added. The new Seaford Library and Cultural Center will have a computer room with 16 computers; additional computers will be located throughout the library. There will be an area for children's and teens' books, a children's program area, study cubicles and a section for adult books. In addition, there will be two reading terraces, one for children and another for adults. The facility's community room will be able to seat 200 people. There will also be an exhibit room for art shows and cultural programs.

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