Logo courtesy of Ames Public Library
By Andrew Duffelmeyer
(Sept. 26, 2011 - 10:30 a.m.) Ames Public Library Director Art Weeks on Sept. 22 took AmesNewsOnline on a tour of the building he oversees, which could undergo major changes if an $18 million bond proposal is approved by voters on Nov. 8.
The proposal would expand the library from its current size of 48,000 square foot to 77,000 square feet and include a complete renovation, while maintaining all previous additions and the original 1904 building.
The Ames Public Library, which was last expanded in 1985, is one of the most active libraries in the country. It's in the top 10 for libraries in communities the size of Ames (60,000 or fewer) in terms of circulation, program attendance and children's books borrowed.
The library's circulation has nearly tripled since the 1985 addition, from about 505,000 to about 1.4 million. That means about 450,000 visitors a year and 4,000 returns the library handles daily.
The bond is expected to cost taxpayers $29.70 per $100,000 of residential property valuation and $61.20 per $100,000 of commercial property valuation. The library has committed to raising $2 million on it's own for the project.
Weeks said during the tour the areas for children, teens and staff at the library are too small, as are meeting, computer and study areas. The library has run out of shelving space as well, and certain areas are not properly supervised.
The building also has numerous areas that aren't compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Weeks said: spaces between shelves aren't wide enough, study rooms aren't easily accessible and the elevator isn't big enough, among other things.
A committee has been formed to sell the plan to Ames residents.