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by Jacob Lane · December 04, 2013


"My home is on the peaked sea-mark of Ithaca, under Mount Neion's wind-blown robe of leaves . . . I shall not see on earth a place more dear." -The Odyssey

After 10 years of war and 10 years of searching Odysseus speaks these words after finally arriving home in Ithaca. The West Liberty community showed the same sentiment Saturday night, Nov. 23, during the grand reopening of the library.

Around 100 community members showed up to not only peruse the many new rooms of the building, but welcome the library back home once and for all.

"I think it's great," said library worker Sarah Brugman, "The whole place is amazing now." She and the rest of the staff were on hand to show off the new building.

It's original location, 400 N. Spencer St., closed on May 15, 2012, due to water damage sustained by the building's walls. The shutdown surprised many.

During the reconstruction period, the library moved many of its services to a temporary location on Third Street in the former Century Grille building.

Quarters were cramped and the books selection was smaller, but the staff was grateful for a place to stay alive during the tenuous period.

"I was surprised, when we moved back, how few people remembered us here," said Library Director Janette McMahon during her opening speech. "But we're finally home."

McMahon took the opportunity to thank many of the men, women and families involved with the process, including Todd-Hackett Construction Co. for its work on the outside.

An emergency bond from the city covered the price of the exterior. However, the bond didn't cover the money needed to do work on the inside. It took sizable donations from groups and community members to fund the interior.

McMahon showed her gratitude towards Lois Schermerhorn, Mary Eliasson, and Kenneth Moser who helped fund the interior with estate gifts. The Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation helped with the interior renovation.

"Everyone here has been doing an immense amount of work," said McMahon.

"I would like to acknowledge my staff," she added later. "We had people calling at 11 p.m. because they thought we left our lights on, but it was because we were here working."

During the last few months of construction, she and the staff worked alongside construction workers developing, painting and bringing the building to life, especially the children's area downstairs.

Not only does it now boast colorful new equipment and rooms, but a brand new video game room with a giant Nintendo controller.

The game room, designed by 21-year-old West Liberty resident Mac Howes, boasts current and past game consoles. Howes built shelves, doors and other pieces in the room to fit in with the whole video-gaming concept.

"They told me they were doing a game room, so I went for it," said Howes. "I've seen people build giant controllers before and I wanted to try it, I think it came out really well."

On the other side of the downstairs area is a bright room with giant chairs and puzzle piece tables for kids, a grand pallet of colors adorns the area.

The upstairs area has been improved as well. New carpets, more outlets and a generally roomier feeling are there to welcome adults. It still has that library feel, but with a modern twist into the 21st century.

"It wasn't just a construction project, it was a puzzle where the pieces didn't always fit," said McMahon.

Originally, the library wasn't going to shut down. However, when it became apparent that the structure needed special attention, it was forced to close.

But the journey has finally come to an end for the library. While work still needs to be done to the outside, the inside is now open to the public.

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