Residents gathered at Lincoln School Monday for a townhall meeting focused on easing public concern regarding Gibson Memorial Library's proposed renovation and relocation plans.
Ann Coulter, library board president, opened the meeting with a presentation highlighting the future use, current and projected usage statistics and described how funds raised will be used to renovate Lincoln School.
"We wanted to give you an idea of what we thought about when planning for the library" said Coulter. "It's not something we took very lightly."
Since 2004, the library has experienced an 86 percent increase in library usage with an almost even distribution among age groups. Currently, Gibson Memorial Library has more than 10,000 registered borrowers. As of 2011, 83 percent of Creston residents and 59 percent of rural residents checked out an equivalent of $2,338,531 worth of items from the library.
Coulter said Gibson Memorial Library is the only public library in Union County. In addition to Union County residents, the library also serves approximately 1,300 patrons from other counties.
The library's holdings have also increased, which has crowded the library's public space. The current facility prevents the library from adequately carrying out its current programming and adapting to its growing patronage.
The open forum presented two questions, which remain the primary concern.
"What is the timeline" inquired one Creston resident".
Coulter said this project will be done with private funding and that will determine the schedule.
"The quicker we raise money, the sooner we will finish" she said.
A second attendee asked, "What does the $1.7 million cover?"
Coulter says the building renovation will include replacement of the entire roof and windows, reinforcement to the floors to meet the standards for book shelving, renovation of the main level interior walls, updating infrastructure, renovation of the community space on the lower level, exterior wall repair for the entire building, and installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system for the entire building,
St. Malachy School, a facility similar in size to former Lincoln School, replaced their heating and cooling system with a geothermal system.
"The utility cost savings were noticed immediately" said Coulter.
A remodel of the library's current location was considered and dismissed once a cost-savings analysis was performed.
Coulter paints today's modern library as a "destination" place; a "third space" for residents away from home and the office.
The library's plan lists the hallmarks of a third space; "a gathering space that is inexpensive or free, food and drink are important, the location is highly accessible, welcoming and comfortable and both new and old friends are found there."
According to library staff, a number of youths and adults in the Creston area have mentioned all these things as important to them for a public library.
Library board members and staff welcome questions and are still open to address any additional concerns. Resources that may answer renovation, budget and fundraising questions may be found on Gibson Memorial Library's website, www.creston.lib.ia.us.