The Cloquet Public Library received a $784,000 Library Construction Grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to expand the facility.

In October, the Cloquet City Council threw its support behind a $1 million grant application to the MDE to expand the library, which is badly in need of renovation and more space.

In its resolution, the City Council pledged more than $1 million in support of the estimated $2.3 million project, with the Cloquet Shaw Memorial Public Library Foundation pitching in $275,000.

The current 12,000-square-foot facility is too small, and there is a shortage of meeting and study room space for the increased demand. The library's 2018 summer reading program, for example, drew nearly 120 participants, yet they were forced to meet in a space designed for 50 people, according to library director Beth Sorenson.

Sorenson said three studies conducted since 2014 all concluded the library needs to expand by approximately 7,000 square feet to continue to meet the needs of the community.

As part of the requirements for the MDE grant application, Meyer Group Architecture in Duluth created a proposed renovation and addition plan to redesign the library to make the current facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and more conducive to children's activities.

In the proposed renovation, the circulation desk would be moved to the center of the existing building to provide better visibility throughout the library. There would be a dedicated children's area and permanent story time space. Library staff must erect and remove the story time stage each time there is an event, Sorenson told the council in October.

Sorenson said Wednesday, Jan. 2, the library still needs to clarify with MDE what the expectations are for the grant, but the grant provides an opportunity to provide more programs for teens and younger children.

"More space means more resources, including more computers and more books," Sorenson said. "It includes more meeting space and we could hold multiple programs simultaneously."

Cloquet city administrator Aaron Reeves told the board during the October meeting if the grant was funded at less than the requested amount, the city could put the project on the backburner. He also said the CSMPLF would continue to raise money through a capital campaign and the city could search for other partner organizations to help fund the project.

The City Council will discuss the award during its Jan. 15 meeting.