KCT Credit Union branch coming to Elgin library

A branch of KCT Credit Union is expected to open inside Gail Borden Public Library this summer in Elgin in a partnership that will include financial literacy programming.

Officials say this might be the first "marriage" of its kind in the country.

The 400-square-foot branch - the entire library is about 140,000 square feet - will take over some of the seating area for the cafe on the first floor. The Elgin City Council approved in an 8-1 vote Wednesday a zoning change allowing the plan to move forward. There will be no changes to the exterior of the library, and there is no current proposal for exterior signage.,"

"We believe it will be an added enhancement for our library customers," library spokeswoman Denise Raleigh said. "It may also bring additional people into the library to discover what we have to offer."

Raleigh and Mike Lee, president and CEO of the credit union, said they don't know of any public libraries in the country that contain credit union branches.

Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation based in Wisconsin, agreed. "Yes, to my knowledge, it is the first," she said.

The KCT branch at Gail Borden is expected to open in July, with a grand opening in early August, Raleigh said. The library board has approved the project.

KCT, based in Elgin, opened a branch in March in South Elgin in a building owned by Gail Borden that contains a library branch in a separate space. The credit union pays rent for the South Elgin space, and that agreement includes opening inside the Elgin library, library Deputy Director Sara Sabo said.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions owned by their members. KCT was formed in 1937 by an Elgin teacher and the Kane County superintendent of schools. Its moniker is short for Kane County Teachers Credit Union. It also has branches in Geneva and Aurora.

Lee, who's been in his role for nearly four years, said he'd made an effort to steer the financial institutions back to its community roots. The credit union has partnered with Elgin Area School District U-46 to offer financial literacy classes and has ATMs in high schools there and in Community Unit Community Unit District 300.

As for the partnership with the library, "the library is all about literacy, and we're all about financial literacy. And financial literacy doesn't do much good if you don't apply it," he said.

Some council members said they were surprised by the proposal.

"You're right. It's very unusual," Sabo said, " ... But we do feel there is a very large literacy component that KCT can bring to the library. We think it's going to be a very nice marriage of services that we can provide to our customers."

Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger wasn't swayed. "I think I am going to be conservative in this one and say, 'The library should be the library," she said.

Councilman Rich Dunne said it's up to the library board to make such decisions because the city council approves only zoning.

Resident Randy Hopp, who served on the library board a few years ago, spoke against the plan on Wednesday, saying the cafe needs all of its seating area.

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