Rushford library in line for federal funds - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Jennifer Hoff

Rushford library in line for federal funds

Updated:

RUSHFORD, Minn. (KTTC DT) -- A local library, cramped to the max, is now in the running for millions of federal dollars to help build a bigger library.

Whether or not to cash in on that money is up to Rushford city leaders, who dodged KTTC's requests for an interview.

The director of Rushford's public library is one of just three people in charge of shelving, filing and sorting the 25,000 items inside the nearly 90-year-old building along the city's main street.

"Tuesday the drop box is very full of stuff coming back and I go, 'here we go again," says Rushford Public Library Director Susan Hart.

According to Hart, every year, some 30,000 people visit the library, only 1,600 square feet and attached to the City Hall.

Hart has tried, and failed, for at least a decade to expand the space - not enough money being the usual culprit - until now.

"We've got the money, we can move ahead, really? Because for so long we've put the brakes going, we've got these plans but we can't move ahead."

Hart says, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Rushford $250,000 in grant money and $2.2 million in last loans last week for a new library, city hall and in-house coffee shop, located just a block east.

"When it happens, we will become a great community center, a hub, a place for people to gather."

While the award is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Hart plans to contribute $1.5 million through fundraising - a move she hopes will instill confidence in city leaders, who have the final say on whether or not to approve the plans and accept the loan.

Efforts to contact those leaders Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Hart plans to meet with them Monday and discuss how to make her new library dream a reality.

Other media reports suggest, the city's budget is already in the red and accepting the loan could push them further in debt.

Officials have 180 days to approve the loan or the federal funds simply disappear.

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