For Every Citizen

For Every Citizen: A Capital Campaign for Eckhart Public Library

What happened?

On July 2, 2017, while the library was closed overnight, a lit firework was dropped into the library’s book drop. The ensuing explosion and fire destroyed the 1996 addition side of the library’s main floor. Smoke, soot, and water caused heavy damage throughout the rest of the building, including into the library’s ductwork, from the farthest reaches of the basement to the attic. All circulating books and materials had to be replaced. The person who started the fire was arrested and sentenced in October 2017 to 12 years in prison on an arson charge. The main library building has been closed since the fire for restoration and renovation.

About the Campaign

Why “For Every Citizen”? Donors will build upon library benefactor Charles Eckhart’s unshakable foundation of a library, as he described it, “not for any particular class or group, but for every citizen.”

What is the overall financial goal? 

$12 million

What are the needs of the campaign?      

$6 million – Restore and renovate main library; purchase books and materials to replace collection that was entirely destroyed; other capital improvements to campus

$1.5 million – Growth and expansion of teen and children’s services

$4.5 million – Endowment for maintenance and emergency fund

About Rebuilding

What has been done? 

As of May 2018, the library has been cleaned down to the studs. All exposed areas had to be repainted and sealed because of the toxic nature of the smoke. The library’s HVAC and plumbing will need to be entirely replaced.

Who is leading the campaign? 

The capital campaign co-chairs are Vicki and Rick James. Also on the committee are EPL Board of Trustees President Carolyn Foley, Library Director Janelle Graber, Chuck Knox, Kathie Kock, Jamie Long, Robert Tracey, and Angela Mapes Turner. The campaign has the full support of the Board of Trustees and the newly formed Eckhart Library Foundation.

Who is doing the work?

Fetters Construction, which worked on the library’s 1996 addition, will serve as general contractor for the restoration. Chuck Knox is leading the fire recovery project. Zachary Benedict of MKM Architecture & Design has drawn the plans for the renovations, which will preserve the elements of the historic side of the library, with a goal to remain on the National Register of Historic Places. The same firm designed the library’s 1996 award-winning addition.

Why is the whole west side entrance being redone? 

The new design eliminates the terrace so that everyone enters at ground level of the Library Park. The heating element in the existing concrete ramp to the current entrance stopped working about five years ago, and many patrons found the ramp too long and challenging to navigate. Creating a ground-level entrance with an elevator just inside the doors will make the library more accessible to all. Restrooms also will be relocated to the new entryway and will be more accessible as a result of this change.

What will the new entrance look like? 

The new entrance will more closely resemble the original east face of the library, to create a more unified look to the building. 

Eckhart Public Library New Library Entrance Rendering

Get Involved in The Campaign

Join us in contributing to the future of Eckhart Public Library by contributing to the campaign online!

Please Designate your gift as "Eckhart Public Library Capital Campaign."

You can also download the form and mail it to:

Eckhart Public Library

For Every Citizen

603 S. Jackson

Auburn, IN 46706

More Details about the For Every Citizen Campaign

How much will the library receive from insurance? 

The library anticipates an insurance settlement of $2.6 million for construction costs. Changes that are not related to fire damage are not covered by insurance.

Why not just restore the library as it was? 

We are turning our obstacle into an opportunity! Through strategic planning, we have identified long-standing accessibility challenges, opportunities for growth throughout the four buildings of the library campus, and changes that will make the library more flexible and adaptable in a technological age. Eckhart Public Library will be progressive and proactive in serving our community’s evolving needs.

What other changes are happening on the campus? 

A facilities assessment in 2017 identified areas of needed improvement and growth. The current parking lot will be expanded. Our Teen Library expansion, guided by a Teen Advisory Committee, will provide much-needed space for books, materials, and programs.

Why does a public library need an endowment? 

Prior to the fire, the library had engaged with a financial consultant to do an in-depth analysis of future options for increased revenue streams from diverse, reliable sources. Operating funding in recent years has not increased at a rate that can sustain current services and facilities, and funding is unstable from year to year. For example, Indiana’s property tax laws mean that circuit-breaker caps limit public funding based on fluctuating tax rates, which are also capped, making it incredibly difficult to budget and sustain services and facilities. As part of the same analysis, a facilities consultant identified needs to all campus buildings.Our ability to offer competitive wages, provide library services, and maintain our facilities, especially our historic main library, has been negatively affected by the lack of diverse and reliable operating funding. The endowment amount, as identified by the financial consultant, will allow the library to address these issues. It will place the library on firm financial footing for years to come, to better uphold its commitment to its mission – and to return the value on the investment the community has made in rebuilding a beloved landmark.

What if I have donated already since the fire?

 All donations since July 2, 2017, to fire recovery will be counted toward the capital campaign and any matching gift.

Other Details

  • Every effort will be made to replace scope of the collection of books and materials with the same quality and integrity   
  • An additional meeting room with catering kitchen on main floor   
  • Restrooms by main entrance   
  • Expanded parking   
  • Fiction collection on the main floor   
  • Comfortable seating areas   
  • Points of service on every floor   
  • A redesigned floor plan in children’s area   
  • Historic stairway between main and second floors will be accessible for public access   
  • Reworked spaces that allow for additional programming opportunities   
  • Expert restoration of Robert Grafton’s Civil War painting, featuring Charles Eckhart   
  • Tuck-pointing masonry on the historic side   
  • Exterior painting on the historic side of the library   
  • Extensive roof repair at the main library   
  • Repair and replacement of sidewalks throughout the library campus   
  • Upgraded fire and security systems with interior and exterior cameras installed throughout the library campus  
  •  Upgraded sprinkler system at main library and Genealogy