Originally scheduled for completion in April 2010, the Reading Garden was planned as a fundraiser by the Foundation for the . Donors purchased bricks in a variety of sizes, and could inscribe the bricks with dedications to relatives or friends, or with an inspirational person.
The stone garden comprises paved bricks and seat rocks and is situated outside, near the library’s main entrance. A crew started work on the garden last week, and bricks will soon be installed.
“The garden was supposed to be a fundraiser for the Foundation,” Gene Looft, a member of the library foundation, said. “I think it’ll be more of a break-even project instead.”
The Reading Garden was also designed to encourage people to sit and read outside. “The foundation wanted to enhance the library’s grounds with a garden,” Looft explained.
Looft said that sales of bricks during the Reading Garden's two-year campaign have been lackluster. “We were hoping that people would beat down the doors and try to buy the bricks, but I think we sold less than 100 bricks in the first year of the campaign,” he said.
“We had a few people who bought bricks when the campaign began two years ago, and they were getting impatient with the wait for the Reading Garden to be constructed. That's why we started construction on the garden,” he said.
“Sales [of the bricks] were down because of the economy. Some people have said we probably would have sold more bricks if we did this campaign five years ago,” Looft said, then paused. “I think they’re probably right.”
The low sales also necessitated changing the design of the garden, ultimately making it smaller than originally planned. Describing the Reading Garden as “very outdoorsy,” Looft said it was also “reminiscent of when people would sit outside and read books.”
Looft estimated that “several hundred bricks” were eventually sold for the Reading Garden.
A four-inch-by-four-inch brick was $100, an eight-inch-by-eight-inch brick was $200, and a 16-inch by 16-inch brick was $750. All bricks included inscriptions. In addition, seat rocks were available for sale for $2,500 each.
Earl Sabes, the library's public relations manager, said the garden cost between $10,000 and $13,000 to build.
“The garden isn’t in a big area, so patrons are not impacted by the construction,” Sabes said. “The Reading Garden will be a great addition to the library. It's also a great way for donors to recognize friends or relatives who helped them in the past.
"We can't really plant too much right now because it's so cold," he said. "We'll add more plants next year."
Looft said the foundation is considering a second phase for the Reading Garden if enough donors express further interest in purchasing bricks. “If we have a groundswell of people who want to buy bricks, the Foundation could consider building a brick pathway leading to the Reading Garden,” he said.
Krogstad Land Design Limited, a landscape architectural firm, designed the Reading Garden.
Library patron Linda Lanworthy said the Reading Garden sounded like a great place to read in the summertime. "Hopefully, the garden will encourage people to come to the library," she said.
Dean Sasman, another library patron, took a different view. "I don't know much about the garden, but right now, it just looks like a hole in the ground," he said. "I don't know what the big deal is."