Image courtesy of Ames Public Library.
By Andrew Duffelmeyer
(May 18, 2011 - 11 a.m.) The Ames Public Library plans to ask voters in November for $15 million to renovate and expand the library.
Library director Art Weeks and architect Jeff Scherer on Tuesday evening proposed a $20 million project to the Ames City Council. The effort would include about $5 million in private fundraising by the library board.
That project would renovate and increase the size of the library from about 48,000 square feet to 77,500. Weeks said if all goes as planned - including the approval of a $15 million bond for the project on the November ballot - the project could get underway in summer of 2012.
Scherer said the library, which was last expanded in 1984, is suffering from numerous issues including accessibility, collection space, technology changes, safety and security, meeting space and youth space.
"Our goal is when we are done the entire building will be like a brand new building and have systems if properly maintained that will last for at least 50 years," Scherer said.
The library's circulation has nearly tripled since it's last expansion, while the number of visitors has doubled. The collection has topped out at about 230,000 volumes.
"It was planned for an expansion in 20 years so it's met its point of obsolescence," Scherer said. "It's done its job but it's past that point."
Scherer said by increasing energy efficiency it will cost about the same to light, heat and cool the larger structure as it costs for the current library space. The goal is for the building to be certified as a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) silver or gold building.
Weeks said he also expects staffing costs to be about the same because of more self-service areas for patrons.
The next step is public feedback. There will be three meetings May 18, at 10 a.m. in the library; at 2 p.m. at the Northcrest Community; and again at 7 p.m. in the library.
"We really would want to hear form the public because this is the library for the people of Ames," Weeks said.
The council overall seemed pleased with the proposal, and about a dozen people were on hand to support the plan.
"I think you did a really nice job of listening to some of the concerns of people that worked on the '84 addition and really wanted to see some of that flavor retained," Councilman Peter Orazem said.
Weeks suggested this could be the last expansion of the library building.
"I think that we could live with this for quite a while and your next step could be branch libraries," Weeks said. "But I think that will be after my lifetime as a director, maybe after my lifetime as a person."