The Lincoln Museum staff has been “up to their eyeballs in dust and books” for several weeks as work progresses on the long-anticipated Lincoln Library.
Museum director Iris LaRue said the library will add 3,000 square feet to the existing facility and will showcase more than 3,500 Abraham Lincoln and Kentucky-Civil War-related books.
“It’s an idea that has been around for many years that our trustees had wanted to see done,” LaRue said. “It was a long-range goal we’ve been working toward 10 years or more, but didn’t have the money or facility for it.”
The project received a boost in the form of a $30,000 grant from the National Park Service.
Keith Pruitt, superintendent of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, applied for the competitive grant through the Cost Share Challenge Program.
Pruitt’s first proposal to secure the grant in 2006 wasn’t successful. This year, it was approved with the stipulation that at least 50 percent of the grant be matched in terms of cash, labor or donated books.
“I’ve always been interested in developing that library since I arrived here,” said Pruitt. “I saw an opportunity to get funding and Iris and I worked together on it.”
The grant enabled the museum to construct the library 10 years sooner than expected, LaRue said. Its opening will enhance Lincoln Bicentennial programs. Lincoln’s 200th birthday observance is Feb. 12, 2009.
Nolin RECC donated $3,000 for the library through its Operation Round-Up program; the Kentucky Bicentennial Commission provided other assistance.
The new library will be accessible from the museum’s art room on the second floor and from street level. The outside door opens on the outer wall of the museum on West Main Street. The rooms that once housed accounting offices of Frances Flanders and Mark Greenleaf soon will be lined with shelves and workstations, said LaRue. The additional wall space will display Lincoln artwork.
Books have been donated by individuals and the LaRue County Public Library. The public library donated nearly all its Lincoln collection already catalogued, LaRue added. The staff agreed to catalog the remaining books.
Drywall, heating and cooling and insulation work is complete. Workers are salvaging as much of the original woodwork as possible.
The construction is being done by local contractors and volunteers, LaRue said. It’s expected to be finished by the end of the year with a grand opening in April 2009 as part of the museum’s 20th anniversary celebration.
The library will be open Monday through Saturday and can be used for research and conferences, LaRue said. The books cannot be checked out.
“It’s not intended to be the public library,” LaRue said. “It’s for us and the park to have a place to make their collections more accessible.”
Pruitt said the park will promote the new library to visitors when it is complete.
“I think it will be excellent when it’s done,” Pruitt said. “I think the community will be very pleased. Iris has done a great job.”