Library readies for expansion with help from Cottage Tour

As official negotiation of temporary leasing is confirmed and signed, the South Coastal Library, located on Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach, will be relocating during time of construction, which is expected to start this fall.

The expansion of the library’s capacity with additional space directly to its west will more than double the building’s size, from roughly 10,000 square feet to nearly 22,000 square feet. This will allow for a new multipurpose room capable of accommodating 150 people and an additional conference room that can suit 15 people, as well as providing space for programming for all ages and patron use of technological and educational materials.

The amount of time before the new-and-improved South Coastal Library is presented to the public is not yet known.

“In a perfect scenario, the project would be complete in 14 months,” said Library Director Susanne Keefe, who estimated a month for the initial move from the library, 12 months for the construction and another month for the move back into the completed project. Actual completion could, however, take longer.

“It’s past time for the expansion,” said Keefe. “So many full-time families are moving down to the area. The winter here’s no longer quiet, and the space is definitely needed.”

“The library’s relatively young,” added Keefe. “We’ve been here for 12 years, and we’ve already outgrown our space. It just goes to show you how much this area is developing.”

The project, originally estimated to cost around $6 million, now sits at roughly $7 million. Of that cost, the state has fulfilled the maximum funding budget of $3 million, according to Keefe. Sussex County has contributed $1.5 million.

To help supplement the rest of the cost, Friends of the South Coastal Library (FOSCL), a non-profit, all-volunteer organization founded in 1988, has initiated a capital campaign to raise at least $2.5 million. So far, they have successfully raised $1.1 million through fund raisers, book sales and events.

The last week of this month will mark one of FOSCL’s biggest money-makers, as 10 homes will be showcased in the 16th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour. The event runs from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26.

“This year’s tour will be a nice follow-up to the ones we had in the past,” said Joan Gordon, a member of FOSCL’s Public Relations Committee. The homes range from ocean-side locations to bay- and canal-front property, and stretch from North Bethany to Fenwick Island.

“It’s possible to see most of the houses, maybe all of them, in one day,” Gordon noted. “But it’s best to see them over the course of both days, at a leisurely pace.”

Turnouts have been quite impressive in past years, as attendance has maxed out for the past seven years.

“We’ve had sell-out crowds since 2000,” she said. “Each year, tickets sell out a little earlier.”

Last year, every ticket was sold by the Saturday prior to the event. Accordingly this year, guests are being urged to purchase their tickets in advance, as once again, they are limited. They cost $30 apiece, and can be purchased by stopping into the South Coastal Library or online at until July 14. Tickets are not mailed, and must be picked up at the library a week prior to the event.

As of July 18, tickets can also be purchased at the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, located in Fenwick Island, at Japanesque, Perfect Furnishings, Rose Garden and Sea Needles in Bethany, at McCabe’s in South Bethany, at Carolina Street and Southern Exposure in Fenwick, and at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth.

For $1 each, or $5 for six, dinner-for-two raffles for area restaurants like The Bistro at Bear Trap Dunes, DiFebo’s, Isabella’s, Magnolia’s, Mancini’s, The Oak Arbor Inn restaurant, The Parkway and Sedona are again being offered. For the same price, works will be raffled from featured local artists, such as Dorothy Harrison Braun, Aubré Duncan, Carol Dyer Laura Hickman and Michael Orhelein. The tickets will be available at select homes on the tour and at the library.

Donations are also being accepted. Tourgoers can make an additional donation of $150 or more and receive an invitation for themselves and a guest to attend the July 19 Homeowners’ Reception/Cocktail Party.

The homes included in the tour vary each year.

“Most of the houses on the Beach and Bay Cottage Tour are in due to word of mouth,” she said. “We have some of the homeowners contact us, wishing to add their houses. Other times, we have locals or vacationers who come to us, saying that they’ve always liked a house they drive by, or would like to see a certain house added. We contact the owners, and it usually isn’t a problem.”

For more information, visit the FOSCL’s Web site, at, call the Friends at (302) 537-5828, or e-mail