ROBERTS — The 5,000-plus books that remain at the shuttered Roberts Public Library are expected to be given away on a first-come, first-served basis next spring.
The village board discussed how to dispose of the collection during its Nov. 5 meeting, when it was suggested that an open house/liquidation event be held.
"It might be April or May before we have it," Board President Rick Flessner said Friday. "We’ll have to let winter clear off first."
Flessner said he already has had requests from residents to be given back the books they donated to the library. However, Flessner said he is not sure if the village has the responsibility to return the books to their previous owners. Flessner said he has contacted a lawyer, Ellen Lee, to determine if they are considered "gifts" to the village or need to be returned.
In any case, residents will have a chance to select the books they want at the spring event.
Flessner said the village is still exploring what to do with other items that remain in the library, including Roberts memorabilia hanging on the walls.
"We’ll have to see if we can use them at the little museum we’ve got down at the Roberts Gym," Flessner said. "We might save some of the things that are specific to the town of Roberts."
Meanwhile, Flessner said he has been in contact with the director of the Moyer District Library in Gibson City to get some input on how to determine if all of the books at the Roberts library are safe to give away. She suggested that books be inspected for signs of mold, and Flessner said the village will follow her advice.
"I don’t want to give somebody something that’s not good," Flessner noted.
The village board in September made the reluctant decision to permanently close the library and disband the library board.
The decision followed unsuccessful efforts by the community to raise enough funds to repair rotted floor joists underneath a stage on the library’s north end. The discovery of the rotted joists forced the library to close in October 2016.
The library at 108 E. Green St. in downtown Roberts had served the Ford County community of 362 people for the past decade.
What will be done with the library building, which is owned by the village, remains undetermined. Flessner said it likely will be sold after its stage area is repaired.
"I am of the mind that if we can’t get a contractor to come in and fix it, I think we’ll have to have volunteers do it," Flessner said.
Flessner said he expects the village to also sell the former barber shop building it owns directly west of the library. The vacant building was previously owned by Diane Maxey prior to her move to Arizona, and prior to that it was owned by Bill Thompson, a former village board member. Previously, it was owned by Marion Berlette of Paxton, Flessner said.
Prior to being relocated to its existing location downtown, the library was housed in a room located off of the stage in the Roberts Gym. The Roberts Women’s Club opened the library in the gym several years before it relocated downtown, using donations of books to get it started.
Also at the village board’s Nov. 5 meeting:
➜ Stan Daro submitted his resignation as ordinance enforcement officer. Janet Walker volunteered to replace Daro. Walker will be paid $200 per month.
➜ Water department employee Paul Theesfield’s report showed that 738,900 gallons of water were pumped in the village in the previous month.
➜ Theesfield said a cost estimate was received for the blasting and painting of the water tower.
➜ The board heard an update on the progress of a drainage-improvement project near Ricky Ricketts’ home on East Green Street across from the local bank.
➜ The board approved a policy prohibiting sexual harassment.
➜ The board reviewed the village’s proposed property tax levy ordinance.
➜ It was announced that a Lunch with Santa event sponsored by Roberts Fire & Rescue would be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Roberts Gym, 118 W. Weldon St., Roberts.
➜ It was announced that instead of the Santa Train visiting Roberts this year, Santa Claus will be visiting with children at the Roberts firehouse instead.