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Wood River Library has ‘big dreams’ for recent property purchase

WOOD RIVER — The Wood River Public Library has long helped expand children’s imaginations.

Now, a recent purchase has its director hoping it will eventually be able to grow in size — and grow some vegetables, too.

The library, 326 E. Ferguson Ave., recently became the owner of the foreclosure property next door, and Library Director Lindsey Herron has high hopes for the space, including a community garden and, eventually, an expanded, children’s wing of the library.

While the long-term plans aren’t set in stone, Herron hopes to take it “step by step,” starting with offering to allow first responders to use the rundown house for training.

“Right now, our next goal is to tear down the house, which isn’t going to be an overnight change. I’ve already spoken with the Fire Chief (Brendan McKee) and offered the use of it for training purposes, because if it’s sitting there, it should be used,” Herron said of the property at 324 E. Ferguson Ave. “It helps the community if the fire and police departments can use it for something.

“Obviously we can’t go start knocking things down tomorrow, but once it gets warmer, the plan is to have a community volunteer day to clean up the lot and pull up weeds and make the property look a little more presentable until we can tear it down,” Herron said.

Once the house is torn down, Herron has plans to turn it into a community garden. “It’s going to be a long time before we can expand the library, so I want to do something for the community and I think a garden will be something everyone can benefit from.”

With the garden, Herron hopes to have to have vegetables and other plants so the community can go and take what they need and leave what they don’t.

“I would like to keep the garden open once we do expand as well,” said Herron.

After the library has the funds they need, Herron has “big dreams” of making the property into a children’s wing.

“It would allow what is happening in the library to grow as well,” she said. “A lot of the room to grow has started to stop, because we have so many things going on without the space to really expand them.

“I come from the teaching world, and being able to have sinks and cabinets that are meant for paint brushes and art supplies would be amazing.”

Herron also wants to have room for the children to play with Lego tables and games with the option to learn about the plants and bugs outside in the garden. “We have story time and I always think about how I wish we had a space that we could kick a ball around or go outside and dig up worms and we just don’t have that here and having the option to do that in the future is really exciting.”

With the plan of having the garden outside, Herron sees it as a possible learning experience for kids to do something with plants and bugs. “It really expands our options and we have a science club as well that can take part in those things.

“We are all really excited.”

By Kelsey Schulz

Once the property became available, the library board acted quickly to secure the space.

“I’ve had my eye on it for a while and it’s something that I know previous directors have looked into in the past, but I think the timing just happened to all fall into place while I’ve been in charge,” Herron said. “It’s been vacant since about August and I knew it would be the perfect spot to help expand the library.”

Employees discovered the house was in foreclosure on Dec. 1, 2017, and the following Monday, Herron held a special meeting with board members to approve a purchase and to establish a budget.

“It all happened really quickly,” she said.

The library is located at 326 E. Ferguson Ave.

Reach reporter Kelsey Schulz at 618-208-6452.

Reach reporter Kelsey Schulz at 618-208-6452.

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