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Historical Society considering new home in old library

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(Jan. 21, 2010 - 8:30 a.m.) By Mike Malloy


In an attempt to allay fears about what may become of the current library should a new one be built, director Art Weeks announced during Thursday’s library board meeting that he’s been in contact with the Ames Historical Society about moving in.

“I want to emphasize that that was an administrative outreach from us to them. They didn’t come to us,” Weeks said. “They haven’t expressed anything but continuing the dialogue.”


The Historical Society will soon complete the purchase of its building at 416 Douglas Ave., but that doesn’t mean president Kathy Svec isn’t interested in the library building.

“We’re going to proceed (with the purchase) because we need space now. If the library comes to pass the earliest it would happen would be 2015. We can’t wait that long…There are an enormous number of financial challenges to be met, but the library site offers a lot of possibilities,” Svec said. “It’s a much better configuration of space than we ever thought we could have.”

The move is part of a larger proposal that would reverse the board’s decision in September to build a new library immediately east of city hall. That plan met with some resistance in part because of concerns over the fate of the current library building.

The new plan, proposed by architect Jeff Scherer, would be to raze the 1984 portion of the current library and build a new, three-story structure in its place. The 1904 and 1940 sections of the current building would remain under library management but would not longer house library functions.

The plan will be discussed further at a Feb. 16 joint meeting between the library board and the city council.

The library board also met with Ralph Christian and Jack Porter of the State Historical Society to discuss the impact of the older portions of the library being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Historic Register requires federal agencies to take into account their actions on historic properties and afford the national Historical Advisory Council adequate time to comment before actions are undertaken.

Such a discussion may have been moot as the restrictions are only triggered if federal money is involved in construction. Federal money could be given for the purchase of books, programming, etc. and those would not cause a federal review to be invoked. 

The library would likely be financed through a bond to be paid for by local taxpayers.


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