Reader's final wishes could mean big upgrades for Buffalo Co. library

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MONDOVI, Wis. (WEAU) - A Buffalo County library could see some upgrades after a generous gift from an avid reader.

Mondovi Library director Arin Wilken said the place hasn't changed much since he visited as a child and upgrades to the 77-year-old building are overdue.

“The circulation desk is very old, the windows are quite drafty, we need new doors, but what we really need is more space,” Wilken said.

With challenges to get any tax money, funding options were hard to come by.

That was until a silent reader left a message that spoke volumes of his appreciation for a building that was just four years younger than himself.

“The man's name was Richard Swain and practically every day from the time I started, he would come in and read the USA Today. He rarely would check out any books. He was also deaf for as long as I had known him, so he didn't like to talk but every now and again, he'd like to thank us for keeping the USA Today because that was what he really liked to do, and so when he passed away, of course we were very sad. But then a few weeks later, somebody from the bank contacted us and made us aware that he had left 25 percent of his estate (each) to four not-for-profit organizations here in the community, us being one of them. So we had no idea how much it was going to be,” Wilken said.

Richard Swain lived in Mondovi, but Wilken said he had no family in the area.

He left the library nearly $138,000.

“It is very much appreciated,” Wilken said.

Swain's gift turned the page on the building's renovation plans to offer more space for books and technology.

“I don't think he would want us to stick this money in the bank and let it draw interest,” Wilken said. “That's why we're taking the initiative to put some feelers out there to see if the public would be interested in trying to raise some more money to expand not only the physical building but expand services.”

Wilken said more fundraising might be necessary to add a job-search area and more reading space. He says he hopes the upgrades can be made within the next two years.

He said other recipients of Swain’s donations were the VFW and the American Legion.

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