DeKalb Public Library benefits from big donations

Barbara Yusunas (center) of Sycamore donated $75,000 to the DeKalb Public Library on behalf of her late sister, Helen Yusunas.
Barbara Yusunas (center) of Sycamore donated $75,000 to the DeKalb Public Library on behalf of her late sister, Helen Yusunas.

DeKALB – The DeKalb Public Library received two large, unsolicited contributions last week to help fund its expansion project, taking it to almost $1 million raised from donations.

Castle Bank contributed $120,000, and Barbara Yusunas of Sycamore donated $75,000 on behalf of her late sister, Helen Yusunas.

“Helen loved the library,” Yusunas said. “She was an avid reader.”

The donations will go toward the library’s $24 million expansion plan, which will add 46,000 square feet to the library’s historic 19,500-square-foot building at 309 Oak St. in DeKalb.

The library, which is operated by the city of DeKalb, received an $11.6 million grant from the state of Illinois for the expansion project. The city borrowed $6.5 million to be repaid by taxpayers and is contributing another $2 million in tax increment financing funds, and the library is contributing $900,000 in reserve funds toward the project.

Local banks have loaned the library the remaining $3 million, which the library plans to repay with donations.

Although library officials said earlier this year that they had received almost $1 million in pledges, they were not expecting the most recent donations.

“We were totally taken by surprise,” said Edith Craig, library spokesperson. “We had been working with Castle Bank to get the grant from the state, but their donation was completely out of the blue.”

In addition to more space, the renovation will include elevators and infrastructure to make the building more technologically up-to-date.

“We hope that by making this gift, we will encourage others in the community to join the fundraising effort needed to complete this unprecedented initiative,” Frank Roberts, Castle Bank executive vice president, said in a news release.

Construction already has begun on the parking lot at the corner of Oak and Second streets.

Formerly a vacant lot, this will become the new employee parking lot. Work on the expansion is slated to begin in spring, and renovations to the current library space are planned for late 2015 and early 2016.

Loading more