By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Does Glasgow Need New Library?

Needs Of Facility And Its Programs Getting A Look


Bonnie Davidson / The Courier

The library's computers get a lot of use by students and adults on afternoons and weekends, but the space and computers are limited during busy times. Computer use is just one of a series of issues the City-County Library faces as it tries to come up with short- and long-term plans to improve it.

With a new school funded by local taxpayers, along with tight city and county budgets, it seems like squeezing more funds from somewhere could be an uphill battle. Tight budgets have left some concern to those who enjoy going to the City-County Library in Glasgow.

Library board members and other community members attended a meeting over the weekend. Their sole purpose was to figure out what the library's long-term needs are, and what to do with the library in the short term to make improvements. The group focused on the needs of different age groups and the needs of the building with regards to expansion or just being up-to-code.

With programs expanding and focusing on outreach, such as going to Prairie Ridge, Valley View and Nemont Manor, and keeping books at the Opheim School for community use, the staff has been trying to come up with ideas to make the library more welcoming to the community.

"We're getting an influx of kids right now; the biggest draw is the computers," Emily Wilson, library director, said at the meeting.

She went on to explain that around a dozen kids frequent the library to use the computer for games and internet use, which can be an equalizer for kids who don't have a computer at home. This is only one issue that the library staff has been dealing with. The question is, are there other programs the library can offer to keep kids reading, or what kind of role does the library have to serve others in the community?

The children's area is cramped and there's little space for kids to sit. Wilson said that they have already looked into a shelving system that will be shorter in height and more accommodating to young children looking for books. The shelving costs added up to $15,000, without the cost of installation. With furniture wanted in corners for adults to sit and read, the smaller costs could add up.

Expanding programs and community use also exposes an issue for space. As the group that met over the weekend toured the library, it saw a few potential problems. Public Works Director Robert Kompel gave the group some ideas on what it might take to bring the library up to code in order to utilize the basement for additional space. A second set of stairs would need to be installed, along with a working elevator to make the floor accessible. With that addition, bathrooms might need to be added, and later on fire sprinklers.

While the basement sees some use, the stairs have created potential safety issues for young children and the elderly. It also has limited visibility to staff, so if the basement is open it must be monitored by an additional person. Kompel added that the current state of the basement was not up to fire codes.

"Preliminary ideas are over $100,000," Kompel said at the meeting. "Just for the second stairway and the elevator."

The group also saw water damage to some areas in the basement that suffered some flooding from the previous wet years. Wilson added that a few of the walls tend to leak water in. The issues concerning the structure of the building caused a little more buzz, as programs, adding seating, perhaps adding an area for coffee, and improving efficiency in special use are things that could be solved in a more short-term plan.

"The problems of bringing the library to code, the space is here but it will cost money to make it accessible," Kompel said. "The payoff could be worth it."

Opening the full basement for use would mean hiring an extra staff to maintain and watch the floor. The library would also have to look at maintenance issues that might arise in the older building. Fixing the heating and cooling systems, replacing windows and replacing fixtures that might break wouldn't be uncommon in a building that was built in 1966.

Another option, other than using the current space, was to buy the land behind the library and put in an addition. It would save the library from having to hire an extra staff member and would create the extra space hoped for. The cost for the addition isn't certain yet, but the library had looked into hiring a planning group to analyze various options and costs. Unfortunately, to hire a planning group will cost the library $20,000.

The last option would be to find a way to build a new library, something that county Treasurer Jenny Reinhardt and Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson agreed would not happen in the near future.

"Politically it's not the right time," Erickson said at the meeting.

Reinhardt explained to the group that with many in the community being elderly and living on fixed incomes, trying to pass a bond wouldn't go well. She said that perhaps in five years they could try and suggested they look for a way to borrow funds. Erickson and Kompel both came up with different organizations to find funding for the work that needs to be done on the library, with hopes that maybe someone could step in and help.

Wilson has been trying to research what other libraries in the state have done to revamp and rehabilitate libraries and she hopes to continue to look into options for the library in Glasgow. By the end of the meeting, many were suggesting that they look and analyze further the costs and needs of the library. While no long-term plans were put in effect, the library board was still open to ideas and suggestions on ways to fill the needs of the community.


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