If you’re a frequent Grimes Public Library user, you likely already know that the James Street location is undergoing some major interior renovations, and the library has been moved to its temporary location at the Grimes Community Complex (G.C.C.). Staff members moved materials over on May 19, and work on the library is supposed to be finished around the end of September. The library is slated to reopen sometime in October.
Some new digs
“It’s had a good run, but the building is 20 years old now, and some things hadn’t ever been redone,” says Library Director Karla Pfaff. “We hired a library consultant with the architect to look at what we could do to organize the space to be better utilized. We had crammed things in, and the shelving didn’t match, and we thought if we’re going to do this, let’s get it done right.”
Pfaff says many cosmetic changes will take place, including replacing carpeting, painting, additional plug-ins for those who need to recharge phones or computers, new lighting and new shelving. The bathrooms will also get an overhaul, and the library will add furniture and more study space.
“From some surveys and groups we’d had, we found out from the public that they wanted more space,” Pfaff says. “They wanted more seating. There wasn’t very much. We had two easy chairs and one table, and then the meeting rooms were often busy with story times or groups using the rooms. There wasn’t anywhere to sit and study and spread out books.”
Kelley Brown, Grimes city administrator, says she understands that people are interested in a bigger library, but it’s not something that’s going to be done right now.
“The fundraiser who was hired determined that the option to fundraise for an addition wasn’t really feasible, which is what led to the remodel versus building an addition on the library at this time,” she says.
Though the library will not be physically expanded, it will be receiving new furniture and more ergonomic solutions to the space problem. New chairs will include a swing-up desk portion for those who want to bring a laptop and have a quiet place to work. More seating and table space in the computer area will also be added for those who need to spread out materials to study.
The staff area in the library will also be updated and will be utilized in a much more efficient manner, allowing for some of its space to be re-designated for the public.
“Until we get more space, we’ll have to use everything as best we can,” says Pfaff. “The consultant helped us arrange the books and redo the staff area, including adding a wall. We moved the staff space back, made it much more efficient and opened up enough area that we aren’t losing too many shelves.”
Pfaff says even though the library might lose some room for shelving, she hopes with the introduction of e-books and e-magazines and databases that they can make up for loss of space by having the extra online materials.
Another change that the staff is making is in the way media is checked out. Before, all media was kept behind the counter in the staff area, and people had to take a slip from the shelves to the staff in order to receive their CD or DVD or other materials. Now those items will be shelved, which will allow for easier browsing and faster checkout of materials.
Since the building was built, changes have also been made to requirements to meet the American Disability Act. The library did not have a lower checkout area for those who use wheelchairs, and now it will.
“It will also enable the kids to use that lower checkout,” Pfaff says. “It teaches them to be responsible, and it interests them and gets them excited about choosing materials and checking them out themselves.”
There will also be a few fun surprises in store for kids and adults alike in the new space, but Pfaff isn’t spilling the beans about those just yet.
For those utilizing the library in its G.C.C. location, Pfaff wants to ensure that patrons know of some changes to library procedures and policies. One of the biggest is that there isn’t a drop box for materials. Patrons will have to return things when the library is open.
“We looked into getting a drop box, but the cheapest one was $3,500, and it was hard to invest that money for only four months,” Pfaff says. “I’m so sorry to the public for that; it was the hardest thing not to be able to work out.”
Library hours will also change slightly to accommodate the hours already existing for the G.C.C. The library will still open at 9 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, but it will close at 7:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:45 p.m. on Friday, 2:45 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“All our programming is great because the G.C.C. was so accommodating to us,” Pfaff says. “They bent over backwards to schedule all our programs, and it’s been nice because actually we have more space for programming. If we have a big program, they’re open to let us use their building. They’ve been so nice to us, and we want to thank them for all the work they’ve done.”
Summer reading and other library programs are still going on this summer as scheduled.
At this point there aren’t any concrete plans in the works for a new facility, but both Pfaff and Brown agree that it’s a possibility in the future.
“We hired RDG to master plan the potential new future City Hall/Community Complex at the current GCC site on S.E. Main Street,” Brown says. “Including the library as part of the complex was considered, but it would require purchasing additional land, and that made the project almost cost prohibitive.”
However, there have been other talks about including the library as part of a future development and potentially leasing the building from a developer.
“All of that is very preliminary as well,” Brown says. “Nothing has been decided, and all options are still being considered.”
Pfaff says it’s clear the public wants a bigger facility, and she agrees that one is needed. They probably won’t be able to add on to the current facility for a long time, so she says the possibility of moving to a different location is a good one.
“We’re a size E library, and among all of them, we’re the smallest in the state,” Pfaff says. “We are lacking in space, and we need more for a community our size. We paid careful attention to make the building able to be reutilized for another purpose if we do move out at some point.”
In the meantime, Pfaff and others are excited to unveil the new updated facility. They are organizing a sneak peek gala for anyone who joins the new Friends of the Library group. People can join for as little as $5, and they will be automatically invited to the party.
At this point, Pfaff says she isn’t sure when the gala will be or what the theme will be, but she promises it will be fun.
“We’ll have the gala first, and then we will have a grand opening for the public after that,” she says. “We might have a costume party since it’s October or a formal affair and give people a chance to dress up if they want. It will be a great time at a fun event, and those people will be the first to see the new remodel, and we’re so excited to show it off.”