The Redwood Falls Public Library’s new addition will add about 7,000 square feet to the north side of the building on the area next to the current children’s play area.

It’s amazing the difference a half-million dollars can make.

At the end of last week, fundraising for the Redwood Falls Public Library’s proposed $3.2 million, 7,000 square foot building addition was close to the halfway mark. Over $1.59 million had been given or pledged by area donors and organizations.

An architect’s drawing shows how the library will be reorganized on the inside. It also shows where the new drive-up window will be.

Then, this week, on Wed., Dec. 13, library staff learned the Dave and Janis Larson Foundation had approved a $500,000 grant, bringing the total raised to about $2.1 million.

Why is that important?

The current large-group meeting room will also be expanded onto the area currently occupied by an outdoor porch.

Because next March, the state legislature will decide whether to approve a $1 million grant for the addition. If approved, the full $3.2 needed will be in place, and groundbreaking for the new addition could happen as soon as next April.

The current childrens’ section will be moved to the new addition, freeing up space for more materials for adults.

Library Director Connie Lechner admitted the staff was in shock Wednesday afternoon. The current 14,000 square foot library was built in 1995, paid for entirely with donations and grants, with no local tax dollars. The Redwood Area Library Foundation expects to pay for the addition the same way.

The new addition has been in the works for eight years, beginning as a twinkling in the city’s 2015 five-year plan. The new addition will expand the childrens wing dramatically, opening up more space for grown-up books and meeting rooms. The addition will allow the library to have a breastfeeding area, a new, separate parking area with a drive-up window for depositing books, and new meeting rooms for smaller groups who currently have to reserve the large meeting room set up for 75 people.

The far wall in this photograph will be removed and the new childrens’ section will extend out onto what’s now the eastern lawn.

Fundraising efforts are continuing. Although the library’s goal is close to the $2.2 million goal for spring of 2024, Lechner said individual donations from residents and organizations add up. As one example, Lechner pointed out several Redwood Falls girls who sold lemonade to raise $500 for the library addition last summer.