Grand opening held at library

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The Cat in the Hat, aka Caroline Bosley, popped out of a box during Saturday’s library grand opening, ready to take on all the fun activities the new facility has in store for its future. Pictured in the background are Library Director Nancy Ashmore and Librarian Assistant Caitlin Bittner. (Photos by Correne Martin)

Mayor Dave Hemmer addressed a crowd of nearly 100 for the library grand opening ceremony. (Photos by Correne Martin)

Also pictured, Nancy Ashmore presented a special plaque to Linda Munson.

Library board member Norb Ashchom speaks with community members Bob and Diane Witt.

A few young patrons check out the children’s section.

One of the youngest patrons of the day making her way through the spacious new hallways of the library.

Right inside the children's library sits this unique bench donated by the Brian Dillman family.

By Correne Martin

Some special touches were added to the nooks and crannies of the redesigned Prairie du Chien Memorial Library just in time for its grand opening and ribbon cutting Saturday, Dec. 1.

Swarms of curious patrons joined library and city representatives as well a donors for a ribbon cutting, appreciation ceremony, tours, music, refreshments and kids activities in honor of the completion of the $3.578 million renovation and expansion project. 

Ground was broken for the project Oct. 16, 2017. The new facility officially opened to the public for the first time on Oct. 15, 2018.

“After four and a half years, the library is officially open,” announced library board president Linda Munson in a speech about the tireless work of the board, library and city staff, friends group, volunteers and others.

Library Director Nancy Ashmore added to her comments, thanking all who helped make this dream a reality. She recounted the days of labor it took to move the library’s collection to its temporary St. John’s School location, and back, and then once new shelving arrived recently, remove and restock the collection once more. 

At the conclusion of her short speech, Ashmore presented Munson with a special plaque that will adorn the front desk of the library. It says, “As this desk is the Heart of the Library, so Linda Munson has been the Heart of the Library Expansion Project.”

Former city administrator Aaron Kramer spoke, having made the trip back from Hobart with his family, especially for the library grand opening. Kramer was a driving force behind the financial and fund-raising plans for the library project. He said it was Munson, a former council member  and then library board president, who brought him the initial idea of expanding Prairie du Chien’s library.

“This was the perfect storm of a lot of people who decided it was time to stop talking and make things happen,” Kramer stated, reminding those in attendance that the facility was built to last 50 years. “From as far back as the Hoffman Hall project, the hospital, the school and the library, there’s a lot of things going on in Prairie du Chien. Congrats on a job well done.”

In addition to the words expressed in thanks to the many hands that had an impact on the project, there was a noticeable amount of decorative pieces in place throughout the library. These gave the space just the right amount of coziness and character. 

One such piece was a handcrafted bench created by a friend of Brian Dillman, whose parents are for whom the new Bruce and Patricia Dillman addition is named. Brian said the bench was built and painted for a Lexington, Ky., arts fundraiser through which he was the winning auction bidder. The bench sits just inside the new children’s library and looks like the book of poems, “Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride,” by Frank Walker.

While guitarist/singer Mike McCoy performed peaceful background music, the crowd stood around for several hours socializing, marveling over the many spaces the new library provides. The safe room in the basement was a popular one visited. At one point, the Cat in the Hat even popped out of a box to the surprise of those gathered.

A time capsule of some of the day’s moments is being created by the library staff for posterity. 

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