South Bend Friends, city aim to save library

A close up of the front entrance of the South Bend Timberland Library.

The South Bend Friends of the Library met Oct. 5 at the South Bend City Hall. Between 30-40 community members were present — all anxious to learn the fate of both the 1913 Carnegie Library Building, and Timberland Regional Library’s plan for the future of library services in South Bend.

Mayor Julie Struck spoke about the building, which is owned by the city, and the city is committed to repairing and restoring the structure. An engineering report noted that although the building posed no immediate danger to the public, about $75,000-$100,000 in repairs need to be done in the near future. Labor and Industry also examined the building and found mold and asbestos issues in the basement. The city will get an estimate soon, for abatement of those issues. Meanwhile, Struck has begun looking for grants and said she is optimistic that funding can be found..

Bob Hall, Timberland Regional Library trustee, was also present. He noted that as of that date, Timberland did not have any firm plan in place to close South Bend’s library, or any others. The library system has been experiencing budget difficulties and will have to find some way to reduce expenditures.

At a special meeting on Oct. 10, Timberland’s board voted unanimously to table a proposal to close several libraries until Aug. 1, agreeing to make no substantial changes to library buildings at this time.

Jenny Penoyar, South Bend Library manager, gave an outline of the “State of the Library”. She shared copies of the report Timberland recently received from the state Department of Labor & Industries safety inspector and hygienist. These have been shared with the city of South Bend. The reports are under review and a meeting will be arranged shortly between Timberland and the city to determine next steps.

Elections were held for officers of the Friends of the Library. Ravenel Starika was elected president, Diantha Weilepp as vice president, and Elizabeth Penoyar as secretary/treasurer.

Penoyar announced that an extremely generous, anonymous donor had given a large sum of money to the Friends, to be used to repair and maintain the building — whether or not Timberland chooses to keep a library in South Bend. The donation maybe used as matching funds for any grants that the city might find. (South Bend Friends of the Library is a 501 (c) (3) tax except organization)

The Friends is creating a website for both information and fundraising purposes at www.southbendcarnegie.org.

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