Local businessman’s donation helps to make library expansion possible

Plain City Public Library will soon break ground on an expansion that will house a workshop, also known as a maker space, where patrons will have access to specialized equipment to support and nurture their creativity.

(Posted Jan. 5, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Plain City Public Library expects to break ground this month on a building expansion–years earlier than expected, thanks to the generosity of a local, retired businessman and to a favorable construction bid.

“We’ve been working on plans for a new space for the community for some time,” said library Director Chris Long.

With the project cost estimated at $3 million, library representatives were prepared to hunker down for five years or so, setting aside money each year until there was enough to get started.

“We absolutely did not want to ask taxpayers to support the project. We had every intention of squirreling away what we could and, when the time was right, move forward,” Long said.

Then, along came Perry Yoder, who retired in 2021 after owning and operating Yoder’s True Value Hardware in Plain City for 40 years. He was looking for a way to say thank-you to the community for their patronage all those decades. He decided to do so by making a large donation to the library, a place open to the public. He informed library representatives of his plans a couple of years ago. His $1.5 million gift came through this past fall.

“Local people supported my business, and I enjoyed it for 40 years. I just wanted to give back to them,” said Yoder, noting he had great luck with investments in the stock market over the years, helping to make the donation possible.

Long and her fellow library representatives are beyond touched by Yoder’s generosity.

“We love Perry. Everybody loves Perry,” Long said. “Just the idea that he is wanting to do this for the community, and he is using the library’s hands to do it–it’s just such an honor.”

Another boon to the project came with the opening of sealed construction bids. Most of the bids came in just under the $3 million estimate. One bid, however, came in well under, bringing the project cost down to $2.2 million. That bid came from Fiorilli Construction based in Richfield, Ohio.

The new workshop at Plain City Public Library will be attached to the library’s west side and include a drive-through pickup and drop-off window.

The library has already covered $200,000 in architectural fees, permits, and legal documents. They have another $500,000 squirreled away in seed money. Yoder’s donation takes care of the rest.

“It feels like magic,” said Long. “A good deal on construction, an amazing donation… all the stars have aligned, and things are moving forward in a timeline we were not expecting. We are super pleased. We are prepared. We are ready.”

The expansion, which will be attached to the west side of the library, will house a workshop, also known as a maker space. It will house a three-dimensional printing machine, heat press, wide-format printer, laser cutter, Cricut cutting machine, and other equipment to support patrons’ creativity. The workshop will be divided into two spaces: a “dirty” one where things can get dusty and dirty and a “clean” one where dust and dirt are not welcome.

The library already has the equipment but in a much smaller space. They hope to acquire additional equipment through grant funding.

The goal with the new space, Long said, is to not only offer more scheduled programs using the equipment but also allow patrons to walk in anytime to talk about their own projects and get guidance and training from library staff.

All use of the equipment is free and will continue to be free with no membership fees and no hourly reservation fees. The only cost to patrons is for consumables.

“This is a learning environment. We want people to be able to come in and test things out,” Long said.

The expansion also will house a community room to serve as a public meeting space, something the library has not had since before the pandemic. The room will be outfitted with a green screen for patrons who want to do video projects.

This rendering shows the back side of the planned Plain City Public Library expansion.

A small recording studio and a drive-up window are planned, as well. The studio will be acoustically sound, allowing patrons to record live music, voiceovers, podcasts, and more. The drive-up window will offer patrons a convenient way to pick up and drop off materials, a service especially helpful to those with mobility challenges.

While the expansion’s interior will be all about modern technology, its exterior will reflect the smalltown charm and rural heritage of Plain City, Long said. She noted the expansion will take over a portion of the library’s garden space, but some green space will remain for outdoor programming.

As for when the project will be done, Long said, “We’re hoping for completion before Christmas Under the Clock 2024.”

Plain City Public Library is located at 305 W. Main St. in Plain City and online at www.plaincitylib.org. Hours are: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, closed. The library can be reached at (614) 873-4912.

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