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New central library on schedule

Published On: Mar 25 2013 12:24:08 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 25 2013 01:04:59 AM CDT

MADISON, Wis. -

With a temporary library that's too small to meet current needs, the new Madison Central library is scheduled to open on time.

That's good news to those in charge as well as to the estimated half-million library patrons who use the space every year.

After years of talk and some financial setbacks, progress on the Madison Central library is finally apparent.

Inside, the space is not very quiet, and there are no books or shelves, but those large empty spaces and abundance of natural light have Jenni Collins of the Madison Public Library Foundation excited.

“It doesn't feel like an overhaul,” said Collins, the executive director of the foundation. “It’s going to feel like a brand new, really spectacular 21st century library.”

It's been a year and a half since the old library, considered by many to be too dark and too small, closed.

The new library is scheduled to open on September 21 of this year.

Patrons will find a children's area bigger than many of Madison's branch libraries, plus a new third floor with downtown views and a community meeting room for author talks during the Wisconsin Book Festival, an annual event the South Central Library System just took over.

“That actually seats 250 people,” said Collins, “and our library system doesn't have space now that will fit that kind of a crowd.”

As construction continues on the library's next chapter, Collins estimated that the foundation has raised a little more than 80 percent of its $9 million goal.

Those private donations will help cover the project's $30 million cost, a total made more feasible because the old structure is part of the new building.

“In terms of being on track, yes, we're on track,” said Collins. “But it's the hardest part and we really do need widespread community support for the campaign at this particular moment.”

To put the new space in perspective, the temporary downtown library on Hamilton Street is about 10,000 square feet.

That's about the size that the children's area in the new central library will be.

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