An evening to remember

The Princeton Public Library fund-raising team is all smiles following a successful event last year. submitted photo

by Ariana Hones

“It won’t be the library you remember, but it will be one you won’t forget.”

Those words heed all who drive down Princeton’s Water Street and pass the public library.

Accompanying this sign is the total amount of money raised thus far in the renovation campaign.

At $800,000 so far, fund-raising efforts continue to push this number toward $900,000.

“Members of the library have been fund-raising for renovations since it first opened in 1985,” said Clairellyn Sommersmith, librarian of the Princeton Public Library.

The fund-raising committee officially banded together in fall of 2015, but before then there was a feasibility study and building committee that had discussed the needed remodel for years.

“This has been the work of many years and many people,” said Sommersmith, noting the community had been generous. “Everyone in this town has given at least $10 when they can,”

With plans to get contracting bids back by the middle of September and then break ground in mid-October, Sommersmith is hopeful that the goal of $900,000 can be met.

All donations that are made now will be matched up to $25,000.

That comes at no better time as Sommersmith and the staff of the Princeton Public Library and fund-raising committee are gearing up for their final fund-raising event.

And to think it began with  the 16th president of the United States of America.

Or rather an impersonation of Abe.

“Someone on our fund-raising committee is friends with an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, so we decided to make an event out of it,” Sommersmith said.

That was last year at the first fund-raising dinner for the new library in Princeton.

This year, the event will be back, but in place of the Lincoln impersonator will be local celebrity Jerry Apps.

Apps is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of dozens of books on rural life and history.

An Evening with Jerry Apps will take place Saturday, Oct. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Green Lake American Legion.

Apps will read from and speak on his newest book: “Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm.”

Dinner will be catered from Crossroads Market.

Two hundred tickets are available at $50 each. They may be purchased at the Princeton Public Library.

“He is a beloved cultural historian and storyteller with a love for libraries,” Sommersmith said of Apps.

Funds raised at this event will go towards the building project.

“There have been weekly raffles at the flea market, pancake breakfasts, take home jars to fill up with coins, golf outings and more — everyone [in Princeton] has done something for this project,” Sommersmith said.

A night with someone who has dedicated their entire life to rural areas seems like an appropriate culmination.

“We need a new computer space, natural light and especially programming space that doesn’t require rearranging all the furniture,” Sommersmith said, speaking of the needs of the library building. “This new building will offer programming and opportunities to showcase what wonderful spaces library are and the importance of the physical space that libraries provide.”

A place where stories of rural life will be both read and cultivated.