Ground broken for library expansion in Prairie du Chien

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Library Board President Linda Munson (left) and Library Director Nancy Ashmore share a laugh as they test their strength and attempt the ceremonious first dig into the site where the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library will expand. (Photo by Correne Martin)

Here is a rendering model depicting how the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library will appear upon completion, which currently, is slated for late July 2018.

By Correne Martin

Ground was ceremoniously broken Monday morning at the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library. A crowd of about 50 gathered to celebrate the long-awaited moment.

“I started in 2001,” Library Director Nancy Ashmore said. “Lois Gilberts was here for five years before me and she said this project was in the works then. I’m so happy we’re finally making this happen. I’m so proud of Prairie du Chien for taking this step.”

The $3.578 million library renovation and expansion became an official commitment for the city, upon approved resolution, in 2014. In 2015, financing, capital campaign and architectural plans were announced to the public.

Bids were expected to be let for the project in late 2016, as the Courier Press reported; however, an issue with the artesian well in front of the library arose. The 1860 well was leaking at an unknown location and needed to be capped prior to any construction.

Bids were finally let late this summer and Portzen Construction, of Dubuque, was chosen as the main contractor. Several members of the company attended the groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

Now that the groundbreaking has happened, preparatory site work will be done. The children’s section of the library will be the first half under construction, then the other half will be tackled. Ultimately, an anticipated completion date for the entire project is quite obscure, of course depending on the weather and other unanticipated factors. Still, the end of July 2018 is the current target.

“A lot of people don’t understand how important a library is to a community,” shared 96th Assembly District Rep. Lee Nerison, during the groundbreaking. “With technology and computers, they think we can get what we need online. But for me, I’d rather go into the library, grab a book, sit down and read.”

Additionally, Library Board President Linda Munson and Mayor Dave Hemmer spoke, giving thanks to those responsible for bringing this project to fruition and supporting it along the way. In addition to a number of donors, both large and small, the city council, county board, former city administrator Aaron Kramer, City Planner Garth Frable, the library board and steering committee, and the Friends of the Library have all been instrumental.

Anyone interested in making a financial contribution toward the library expansion, or for more information about the project or checkouts and returns during the construction, contact Ashmore at or staff at Or find the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library on Facebook.

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