Completing the vision

MARSHALL – It’s a unique gift and one that completes a vision for the Marshall-Lyon County Library.

In a short ceremony on Friday morning, library officials announced that construction on a children’s wing for the library would begin in the near future, thanks to a contribution from Robert and Phyllis Carr of Marshall. The Carrs will be donating the building for the children’s wing, and the Robert L. Carr Company will construct it, said Library Board Chairman Will Thomas.

“This is truly a wonderful gift,” Thomas said.

“I would like to say thank you for your commitment to the community,” Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes told the Carrs.

As part of the ceremony Friday, Robert and Phyllis Carr put their signatures on the official documents for the donation. The agreement will go before the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board and the Marshall City Council next week for approval, and then to the Lyon County Board.

Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the estimated value of the Carrs’ donation, based on library building plans from 2011, is about $1.65 million.

Robert Carr said adding the children’s wing to the building will be a step that completes the original vision for the library. The original plans for the library building, which opened in 2011, included a separate wing for the children’s collection. However, budget constraints at the time moved construction of the children’s wing down the road, as “Phase II” of the library.

“We knew we needed it right from the start. And we thought, now is the time to do it,” Carr said of the children’s wing project. Carr said the plan was to begin construction on the new wing “as soon as possible,” this coming spring.

The Carr family also played a large part in getting the first phase of the library built, with a contribution of $2 million toward its construction.

Architect Ron Halgerson, who designed the new library, shared concept art of the children’s wing and how it will connect to the existing building. The children’s wing will add about 6,000 square feet of space on the west side of the current library, he said.

“It will have sort of its own little identity,” while still going along with the design of the rest of the library, Halgerson said. Developing the children’s wing will also free up about 2,900 square feet of space in the existing library for special collections, community meeting space and library programming.

Halgerson said the plans also call for an outdoor reading courtyard, which would be open to library patrons and programs.

“This is an extraordinary day for us,” said Library Director Holly Martin Huffman

Besides providing more space for the children’s collection, Thomas said, the project will benefit all library patrons. “Rearranging our existing space is going to give us more space for meeting rooms, and our Minnesota literature collection,” he said. “Every piece of what we do will be served by the expanded space.”

Thomas said there will still be additional costs that will need to be covered to complete the children’s wing project, including furnishings and fixtures, and additional parking for the library. Fundraising planning will likely begin soon, he said. Thomas hoped that the Carrs’ building donation would inspire community members to make their own contributions.