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Library is outgrowing its space

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 11:12 a.m. CDT

From Marilyn Ralls, director, Gibson Memorial Library


It is my honor to serve as director for Gibson Memorial Library and my pleasure to work with our patrons, of all ages.

Because of the amount of patrons we serve, space has become a growing issue. We hate to turn anyone away; unfortunately, we do so regularly. We have numerous requests for meeting rooms per week, but, our only meeting room serves as the genealogy room, coffee room and board room. While we want to support organizations and program ideas that will benefit Creston, often, schedule conflicts arise.

The limited space is not enough to support the activities of the library’s new teen book club. This past year, the group meets in McKinley Park when weather permits and the library’s genealogy room when the weather does not. We cannot consistently make space available for this energetic group, though, we certainly want to.

We would like to do more for larger groups for adults, teens and children, as well: story hours, discovery classes, interactive art workshops, after school tutoring, community clubs and more. However, we don’t have room for the amount of people who would like to participate. There is a need for more tutoring, study space and even life-skills classes. However, we do not have enough dedicated space.

According to a space evaluation report conducted by the Iowa Library Services consultant in 1995, we only have enough square footage to serve 37 children in the space Gibson Memorial Library has. That figure did not change with the renovation in 1997 due to budget cuts. According to the same study, we also have inadequate space for teens and older youth. Other areas of concern include inadequate seating and parking for the number of patrons we serve.

We have identified organizations in the community to help carry out our vision, such as, The Learning Center, a pilot program in Southwest Iowa dedicated to providing tutoring to children with learning differences, and Creston Arts, who are working to promote visual, performing and literary arts as a means to promote creativity and collaboration. Also, we have a number of interested volunteers, both retired adults and students, whose collective efforts would build multi-generational bonds.

Due to the increase in single and two job households, more of our families need safe and quiet learning space for kids after school and in the summer. And, we’ve outgrown our technology, as well. The building cannot accommodate more computer terminals or more demand for wireless internet. Yet we have 162 requests per computer use each week.

We need to provide a safe and enriching place where more kids want to be more often, where young adults can gravitate to, and where business people can work quietly.

Our neighboring communities have libraries that have followed the trend and grown to meet the needs of their people. Times have changed and the American library is more than about checking out books. The citizens of Creston, our rural areas and neighboring towns who come here deserve those things, as well.

As library director, it is my professional opinion that Lincoln School is the ideal location to increase our programming, become a more vital part of what Creston has to offer and to become what this community deserves: The Creston Area Library and Cultural Center. 

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