BROOKVILLE – Close to 100 packed into the large meeting room of the Brookville Public Library's east annex for its dedication Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m.

The 9,600-square-foot addition was built on two levels behind the 1912 Carnegie library at a cost of almost $3 million, reported Franklin County Public Library District director Susan Knight.

"It's been a lot of work," said FCPLD Board President Nick Butt, who welcomed attendees. "I'm thankful to be a part of it."

The Rev. Steven Rundel of Brookville United Methodist Church presented the invocation, noting, "We thank you, oh, Lord, that you have gifted us with knowledge and the desire to keep learning." Of the library and its annex, he said, "May it be here for generations to come so others may learn and continue to grow."

Butt introduced board members who initiated the project in late 2015: President Gay Worth, Vice President Hubert Branstetter, Secretary Mary-Alice Helms, Treasurer Brian Campbell and members Patricia Combs, Judge J. Steven Cox, Tonya Jones and Kim Simonson. He also saluted current board members who saw it through. In addition to Butt, Campbell and Cox, those included Vice President Charlene George, Secretary Beth Foster and members Carol Blake and John Palmer.

The building was designed by krM Architecture, Anderson, with interior design by Nancy Miles, Edgewood Design, Brookville. The contractor was Maxwell Construction, Greendale. According to Butt, "Maxwell did a tremendous job meeting our needs."

The board president pointed out, "None of this could have been possible without Lucille Ernst," whose "generous bequest played a significant role in making this annex a reality," according to the program. Ernst was a 35-year teacher, first at the former Lew Wallace School, then Brookville Elementary. She served on the library's board from 1976-92 and died March 21, 2013.

Remarks were presented by Mark McLane, former English teacher at Brookville High School and Ivy Tech Community College. He spoke warmly about "the lady who had such an influence over me – the Brookville Public Library, where I learned enough to teach it to others."

The novelist recalled, "More than 100 years ago the citizens decided there should be a library in Brookville ... The library is more than just a place for old books. It's a gathering place to meet interesting people ... a place of recreation, entertainment and companionship."

"Today we are celebrating the gift of Lucille Ernst," said McLane, who splits his time between a rural county home and apartment in southern California. "Our libraries are an extension of our personal freedoms," ranging from freedom of speech to freedom of the press.

McLane reported the library district went from an initial 903 books to 38,014 books and 45,700 ebooks today being devoured by 1,571 active patrons. He imagined it will serve county residents long into the future, evolving to suit their needs.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.