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home : news : news Wednesday, August 23, 2017

8/13/2016 Email this articlePrint this article 
Plan to expand library ready for serious talk

By Tom Pantera
Editor

When the Frances Banta Waggoner Library Board meets Monday, it will begin to discuss what could be the city's next big project: tripling the library's size.

That project is at least a couple of years into the future, but city officials have begun to take early steps that could bring the project to fruition.

Library Board President Kari Bossom said that in its regular meeting Monday, the board will begin to discuss a draft needs assessment prepared by Library Planning Associates of Normal, Illinois.

The 55-page plan lays out possible goals for the project, which it said would meet the community's needs through 2040. Those include:

A collection of 45,900 books, 7,150 non-print items and 90 magazines;

Eighteen technology stations, which would include a mix of computers and wireless stations for people who bring their own laptops or tablets to the library;

Seventy-six seats for readers;

Ten workstations for staff;

Programming and activity space, including a multipurpose room with seating for 100, a conference room with seating for 12 and a story-time room with seating for 30.

To fit all of that in, the library would be expanded to about 20,000 square feet from its current size of 7,500 square feet on one level.

At that proposed size, the library building itself would cover nearly all the property available.

Costs not included

The study doesn't put any dollar figure on the expansion, but does note that if it costs too much, plans could be scaled back.

But the report notes that some modifications would mean increased costs. For example, if the library were built with two floors, there would be additional costs for elevators and other features to make it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Even if discussions are starting now, it will be awhile before there's a new library.

"I would say a couple [of years] on the short end, and five to seven on the longer end," said City Administrator Steve Lindner. "It takes awhile to raise money, get bonding into place, get that on the ballot, and just design."

The city had the needs assessment done some time ago, but discussion of library expansion was put on the back burner when former Library Director Jane Kedley announced her retirement. City officials decided to wait until Kedley's replacement was hired. That person, Jillian Aschliman, began work last month.

"We had pretty good momentum, [but] we took a break to let Jillian get her feet on the ground," Lindner said.

He said it's too early to tell the likely size of the replacement, since the figures cited in the assessment are suggestions.

It's also too early to talk about the actual configuration of the building, although Lindner noted that if the city decides to keep it on one level, parking would be available at a nearby city hall lot.

Final assessment next

The next step in the process will be to come up with a final needs assessment. That could ramp up as soon as late fall or early winter, "when Jillian feels comfortable with her day-to-day [work]," he said.

Board President Bossom said results of the draft assessment were "a relief, for us to kind of hear what we wanted to hear."

"We knew we needed to expand," she said. "Everybody thinks we don't need any more books, but there's more going into a library than books. We were OK with hearing we need to either add on or change, but we knew the library needs to be updated; it needs to be brought into the new technology age."

Bossom firmly believes that something will be done with the current library.

"I think with our new director and everybody on the board that is gung ho to do this, I believe we can get something done," she said. "Whether it's the full 20,000 feet it says we need, I don't know about that, but we are going to get something."

At a minimum, she said, the library needs more computers and meeting spaces.

"Everybody keeps saying it's our time. The jail's done, the pool's done. I know we're in the city's sights."


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