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The newly completed Westbrook Library expansion will allow more room for expanding the library's collection and hosting library programs. (Submitted photo)

Westbrook Library expansion done

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WESTBROOK -- Before long-time Westbrook resident Maylen Peterson died in 2005, he had a dream of making Westbrook a better place for the families living there.

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Eight years later, his hometown is one step closer to making that dream a reality with the completion of the library expansion project.

Library Director Kari Ouranda said funds from the Maylen Peterson estate kicked off the expansion project, which had been talked about for years.

"Ever since I started working here in 2002, there had been talk about needing more space," she said.

A total of $30,000 was designated from the Peterson estate for the project, contingent on the raising the additional $50,000 needed. it may have seemed to some as a large goal for a town of 739, but those leading the effort remained undeterred.

"We had a thermometer set up in the bank and the library to track our progress," Ouranda said. "We approached most of the civic organizations in town and kept gathering money until we reached our goal."

Fundraising was initiated in 2011 and, by spring 2012, the $80,000 goal had been reached and groundbreaking was set to begin.

During construction, Ouranda said the library was kept open as much as possible.

"We closed the library on the first day of school so they could start knocking out the (connecting) wall," she said.

The library opened again on Oct. 15, and Ouranda said feedback from the community has been very positive.

The color scheme, d├ęcor and roomier feel have all received praise and compliments from library patrons.

"They love it. They come in and say, "Wow! I can't believe (the addition) made so much of a difference," she said. "They are very proud of the library and pleased that a small community can have something like this."

The 30 feet by 43 feet addition almost doubled the library's size, said Ouranda, allowing additional room for the purchase of more computers as well as expanded collections.

"Now we can have areas that are designated for kids, teens and adults," she said. "Before, we didn't have that."

The new space will also allow more room for activities hosted at the library.

A member of the Plum Creek Library System, the Westbrook library was closed at the time the new eBook service was introduced. Ouranda said she expects Westbrook residents to start using that service more.

The Westbrook library will also start the 1,000 Before Kindergarten reading program.

"A lot of libraries have been doing it for a long time and (for us) it's just a matter of getting off the ground," Ouranda said.

The program will challenge parents to read at least 1,000 books to their child before he or she reaches kindergarten.

The Westbrook Library has two part-time people on staff and, like many organizations, is limited with what it can do by time and money.

However, Ouranda said she plans to continue growing the library program in Westbrook as much as she is able -- and that this expansion is a step in the right direction.

"It was a really exciting and fun project. It's just really great to hear that positive feedback that I've gotten from the community and for all their support that made it into a reality," Ouranda said.

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at

376-7322.

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Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at http://throughthelookingglass.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7322
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