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Lake Lillian, Minn., library back on familiar ground

The Lake Lillian Public Library moved into its new location this April. The building has 1700 square feet of space, which will allow the library to offer more programs and classes. Submitted photo

LAKE LILLIAN -- After more than half a century, the Lake Lillian Public Library is back in its original location.

The community library has changed sites a number of times over the years. Now, the library has moved back into the building at 431 Lakeview St., where it was originally housed with the fire department and city council offices in the 1950s.

This last move, which was completed in April, was only across the street.

However, the new building offers double the space: nearly 1,700 square feet, which head librarian Villa Lippert says will help the library offer more programs and meet the needs of the community better.

"It's a beautiful, warm, open space," Lippert said. "We can do so much more in here in terms of programs and classes."

The push to move the library began last September, when Lippert addressed the Lake Lillian City Council. The council voted that all money needed to renovate the building and facilitate the move would have to be raised by the library, not from tax dollars.

The entire project cost around $25,000, Lippert said, which was more than originally anticipated because of unforeseen building issues.

The biggest contribution came from a $10,000 grant from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation in Rochester. Lippert said it was one of the "shortest grants I've ever written," and that she wrote only a paragraph saying how much the library meant to the small community.

"I didn't even ask for any amount. I just said I would be grateful for any amount they would give us," Lippert said. "I was shocked when I opened their letter the next week and saw the check for $10,000."

The rest of the money came from various local businesses in the area and from private donors. Lippert said one of the most touching donations came from two young girls, who each donated $2 from their piggy banks.

"The girls just love the library and wanted to help however they could," she said. "Those are the kinds of donations that moved me. Another man gave $1,000 and said that the library was the most important thing we have in Lake Lillian, and that he really believed in the project. The whole town was very supportive."

To show appreciation for that support, the library is hosting an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. There will be a tour of the new facility, and some past librarians will also be there to tell stories of how the library has changed over the years.

Despite its changes, Lippert said the library has continued to adapt and still serves a vital function in the small Lake Lillian community.

"I've been here 23 years and have seen how wonderful the library has been for this town," Lippert said. "A library in a small town is such a treasure. The library means that people can access anything, anywhere. It gives them computers when they can't afford the Internet. It gives them books for school. The library just opens the world for them, and this community really embraces it."

Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

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